New Legislation Opens Doors for MDE Contracts to Small Businesses - Southern Maryland Headline News

New Legislation Opens Doors for MDE Contracts to Small Businesses

ANNAPOLIS (May 26, 2008)—Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday signed legislation to extend encouragement of the inclusion of small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses to a significant group of construction projects that are funded by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

"Small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses make a significant contribution to Maryland's economy," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "This legislation ensures that minority participation in MDE's capital projects will be encouraged in construction projects totaling approximately $300 million annually."

The Bay Restoration Fund is a dedicated source of financing that provides grants to upgrade the major wastewater treatment plants in Maryland with enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) technologies capable of achieving wastewater effluent quality of 3 mg/l total nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l total phosphorus. Upon completion of these ENR upgrades, Maryland will further reduce nitrogen loading to the Chesapeake Bay by over 7.5 million pounds per year and phosphorus by over 260,000 pounds per year. This represents over one-third of Maryland's nutrient reduction commitment under the Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement.

The bill, HB628 - Small, Minority and Women's Businesses requires recipients of grants and loans greater than $500,000 from the Bay Restoration Fund, the Water Pollution Control Fund, and the Water Supply Facilities Financial Assistance Program administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment to make good faith efforts to include small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses in the capital projects funded by MDE.

"This legislation will improve minority and women business participation," said Secretary Shari T. Wilson. "Not having these practices in place for all significant construction projects was a missed opportunity."

The good faith efforts required by HB628 involve standard practices proven to increase participation such as developing project solicitation lists that includes qualified minority business enterprises (MBE's) and women's business enterprises (WBE's); broader advertisement in diverse media to encourage greater M/WBE participation; divide project components into smaller tasks with reasonable schedules to complete projects; and, make full use of state and other resources such as the Maryland Department of Transportation, U.S Small Business Administration; the Minority Business Development Agency; and, the U.S. Department of Commerce lists, to identify qualified minority and small business enterprises.

Source: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)

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