Published: Aug 26, 2010 7:26 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 26, 2010 4:26 PM EDT

WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $11.6 million in grants to help disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) compete for federal highway contracts in 30 states and Puerto Rico.

"Giving these small businesses the assistance they need to compete for federal highway contracts creates jobs and ultimately helps taxpayers by reducing project costs," said Secretary LaHood. "Any way you look at them, these grants are a 'win-win' for the American people."

The grants from the Federal Highway Administration's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise/Supportive Services (DBE/SS) program provide federal aid to DBE firms to improve their ability to compete for and fulfill federal highway contracts.

Since1982, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has promoted the participation of DBEs in federal-aid highway contracts through state-managed programs. The DBE/SS grants are part of an ongoing federal effort to help state departments of transportation train certified DBE firms on a wide range of business management practices, including procurement assistance and guidance on securing bonding. The goal of the program is to help DBEs successfully compete for federal highway projects.

"Helping DBE firms and their workers enriches the competition for federal highway contracts," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. "Grants like these will help people find jobs and are an important part of economic recovery."

A DBE is a for-profit, small business owned by minorities, women or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals or, in the case of a corporation, in which 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals. The daily business operations must be controlled by at least one of the socially and economically disadvantaged owners. More information about DBE eligibility can be found on the U.S. Department of Transportation's website.

Florida Department of Transportation will receive $600,000.