What Happened in DC 2023

After the success of last year’s DC Fly-In with the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, the board made this a budget item for me to attend each year. AWC’s president Kendra Kron was also at the conference. This year, the attendees were focused on transportation project funding for specific projects within Minnesota communities. Any transportation funding that is received for these projects gives opportunities for AWC Members.

What is nice about attending this conference is that when appropriate I bring up issues on how funding for projects affects small businesses and in addition have specific concerns that I bring up as opportunity presents itself. This year our comments included:

  • Every dollar the federal government allocates for transportation projects equates to DBE small businesses getting a chance to succeed and putting food on the table for their workforce ultimately increasing local economies.
  • The recent Supreme Court decision on abolishing affirmative action use in college admissions has the contracting community nervous about future impacts on government small business contracting goals being challenged again in the courts. Without these programs opportunities for DBEs would be eliminated.
  • The Government shut down will impact construction projects and be extremely costly to DBEs. If projects are stopped contractors must demobilize from job sites and then remobilize hoping they can get paid for the added costs.  Schedules are halted and workers are laid off.  Avoid the shut down and do your jobs.

Arriving on Tuesday morning, Kendra and I met with Representative Angie Craig’s office on day one. We started day two hearing from members of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation. Legislators that spoke to us were Senators Klobuchar and Smith, and Representatives Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Dean Phillips, Pete Stauber, as well as an aid from Ilhan Omar’s office.  The tone this year was much less divisive than last year, and it sounds like the Minnesota Delegation is working together.

Our individual meetings on Wednesday included Senator Klobuchar’s office, Representative Fischbach’s office where Kendra and I had a private meeting with her legislative director, and Representative McCollum’s office. The meetings were all very positive and our narrative was heard.

Thursday morning, we heard from MnDOT’s Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger and Chair Zelle of MetCouncil. The relationship we continue to build with these leaders is the icing on the cake of the fly-in. Add that to the multiple Mayors, Commissioners and Policy Makers statewide that we have met and have a strategic engagement planned in the future. Of course, our partners at the AGC and the Carpenters were also in attendance and that was a huge bonus.

For me, having the opportunity to represent our women and minority contractor members is humbling. Thank you for your continued trust in me and AWC. I want to thank the Minnesota Transportation Alliance for including us and for their hard work on scheduling and planning this Fly-In trip.

— B