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Transportation Secretary Goes To Bat For Minority Contractors

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RALEIGH, N.C. — According to North Carolina Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett, The federal government can withhold highway money from states that discriminate against minority contractors.

Tippett said the North Carolina Department of Transportation appears to be exceeding federal guidelines for awarding construction contracts to minority companies. But the percentage of minority contracts has declined over the past three years, and the secretary says there's a problem with perception.

"Our concern is that minorities are not receiving what we deem to be a fair share," Tippett said.

"The perception out there is that they don't have a seat at the table or a piece of the construction pie. So we feel like, since education solves most problems, that perhaps we should start there."

To show minority road builders what's out there, the DOT is holding a series of regional forums to explain how the state does business, so more minorities can do business.

The secretary said there are barriers that minority contractors need to overcome. But there's one contractor in the Triangle who says the road is not closed to minorities who want DOT contracts.

"We all have to provide competent service," said minority contractor Clarence Mann, "and, obviously, when we provide competent service, and we communicate on a level that we communicate our intentions, we shouldn't have any problem doing business with anybody."

The DOT admits, it needs to try harder. And some minority contractors admit they need to try harder as well.

The DOT will hold its Contract Opportunity Regional Forums through late April. For more information, call the DOT at