Women Contractors Association Gets 2012 Bond Program Update

Presenters at the Women Contractors Association luncheon on Thursday receive pink hard hats. From left to right, Susan Repka, WCA executive director; Raynese Edwards, of PPG/people Source Inc.; Michael Dwight, of Hensel Phelps Construction Co.; Alexis Licata, of the Houston Independent School District.

Companies hoping to do business with the Houston Independent School District under its 2012 bond program got an overview of upcoming bid opportunities at the monthly luncheon Thursday of the Women Contractors Association.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work,” Alexis Licata, the district’s general manager of the Office of Business Assistance, told the audience of some 65 people who turned out for the event. She urged participants, especially minority- and women-owned business enterprises, to help the district as it embarks on the $1.89 billion program that includes renovating or building 40 schools.

The goal of the bond program is to build 21st-century schools that support 21st-century learning, Licata said. Implementing that vision will require businesses with expertise in everything from surveying to plumbing.

HISD is moving forward with its bond program as other entities, including the Houston Airport System and Metropolitan Transit Authority, are also undertaking large construction projects. That means there’s plenty of work to go around, according to Michael Rivera, a project manager at Horizon International Group and a Women Contractors Association board member.

“They’ve got a lot of money to spend,” Rivera said. “There’s a lot of opportunity here.”

HISD has already seen much interest in the bond program from minority and women-owned business enterprises. Since February, 29 contracts have been awarded for design work on 24 schools, restroom renovation projects and athletic upgrades. Of those, five have gone to women-owned firms and another nine have been awarded to minority companies.

Contracts awarded to date reflect a nearly 51 percent M/WBE commitment. HISD’s M/WBE goals are 25 percent for professional services and 20 percent for construction on all contracts more than $50,000.

Licata told the crowd that the district learned a lot from the 2007 bond program, and has implemented feedback to strengthen its M/WBE program, including a new scoring system that provides firms with multiple good faith effort options to meet M/WBE goals. Some of those good faith efforts include particpating in mentor/protégé agreements or attending pre-bid conferences to network with potential M/WBE partners.

For those companies looking for a 2012 bid opportunity, Licata said the district is expected to advertise a bid this weekend seeking proposals for labor compliance, safety and quality assurance. That bid will be posted next week on the district’s website at http://houstonisd.org/domain/8017

“We hope to see a lot of interest from businesses committed to helping us ensure a quality bond program,” Licata said.

Susan Repka, executive director of the Women Contractors Association, said the turnout at Thursday’s luncheon showed “that our members and other M/WBEs are ready and willing to participate in the construction opportunities from HISD and other entities in the Houston area.”

“WCA stands committed to providing upcoming opportunities to our members” she said. “We appreciate HISD’s strong support of the M/WBE community.”