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Op-Ed: Illinois Tollway is committed to ensuring economic opportunity is accessible to all

Ensuring economic opportunity is a goal I believe to be a guiding moral principle in my work on the Illinois Tollway Board. That’s why I’m proud of the Tollway’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. An example of this commitment is the creation of the Diversity Advisory Council, or DAC. Established in 2015, the DAC provides the Tollway with a perspective from more than 20 advocacy agencies on how to improve the Tollway’s diversity programs. These representatives have a long history of assisting Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and veteran-owned businesses in Illinois, and have a strong track record of assisting the Tollway.

The DAC reviews existing policies and programs to effectively increase diversity opportunities across the Tollway’s construction and professional services contracts. It is a priority for the Illinois Tollway to provide an inclusive environment that promotes business development and growth for all businesses. A commitment that is embedded throughout the Tollway’s departments and throughout the agency’s leadership, this Council works closely with the Board of Director’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee to provide the meaningful commitments that produce results.

Thanks to this close partnership, the Tollway produced a report identifying nearly 30 recommendations for increasing access to economic opportunities for diverse and veteran- owned firms. Some adopted recommendations include breaking up larger contracts to provide prime bid opportunities for smaller firms; establishing the Partnering for Growth (P4G) Construction Program that provides mentoring opportunities between small and large firms; and launching a new initiative to provide pre-apprenticeship training to increase diversity within the construction trades.

We’re proud of the work we’ve done to provide an inclusive environment that creates jobs, builds wealth and provides meaningful opportunities for diverse communities. But we’re not done and we’re just getting started. There’s more to come from the Illinois Tollway.

Corey Brooks

Illinois Tollway Board Director

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