CHARLOTTE -- The Charlotte Area Transit System is gearing up for the next phase of the Blue Line Light Rail extension project. CATS will begin awarding $1.16 billion dollars in construction contracts later this year and officials want to make sure small and minority owned businesses are part of the process.
CATS officials hosted an Information Session in at the Extravaganza Depot near Uptown Wednesday. They invited contractors, both big and small, to not only bring them up to speed on the project but, more importantly, to introduce the companies to each other, explained CATS CEO, Carolyn Flowers.
"It's all about access and having the ability and capacity to work on these projects," she said.
The event was specifically geared toward minority-owned businesses like Interpreters Unlimited, a translation firm in Charlotte. It's part of a requirement to receive federal funding for the nine-mile extension, from uptown to UNC Charlotte's campus.
"It's a huge opportunity to allow a small business a real opportunity to meet the people that are actually signing these contracts and to be able to educate them about who my firm is," said owner Alia Paige.
For Moses Nueman, Jr., owner of NB Technologies, a small IT firm, says it's all about networking. "It means a great deal because it shows that there are opportunities to us out there," he said.
But these small contractors aren't the only ones banking on these partnerships.
Frank Terrasi with PCL Construction Services admits large companies like his also benefit. "We need partners and that's very important to us," he said. "It helps us maintain our competitiveness and so that's a big connection to us."
CATS will be awarding a number of contracts from road and rail construction to utilities and electrical work. Officials will begin reviewing bids later this year.