U-S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says small business owners will play a big role in improving the nation's infrastructure.
As News 25's Denise Jackson reports LaHood was among the speakers at a conference designed to help women and minority business owners get more construction jobs.
Bloomington business owner Joe Thornton recently retired from an Excavating company and has now opened his own business.
"It's expensive, a lot of paperwork but it's all gonna be good."
Thornton is among several small business owners attending this conference in Edward's Illinois. Caterpillar and the Illinois Department of Transportation have teamed up to help women and minority business owners compete for construction jobs.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was the keynote speaker. He says it's important to get small businesses qualified to in order to obtain jobs in the president's 550 billion dollar transportation bill.
"That means contractors around the country have a roadmap, they have a plan for the next 6 years. They can buy the equipment they will use to build roads and bridges," LaHood said.
LaHood says the transportation bill will help finish the work begun under the federal stimulus project.
Business owner Katherine Cloonen says she hopes to be able to get work with IDOT.
"2009 was not very good at all. We were able to get some of the stimulus jobs that helped my company vastly. We have gone out and done a lot more bidding so we can get more jobs," Cloonen said.
I-DOT representatives say last year only 13-percent of minority owned businesses obtained construction jobs with the agency. It hopes to eventually boost participation of minorities and women as prime contractors to 22-percent.