Small businesses learn how to get a piece of Colorado’s multi-billion dollar development pie
That landscape-changing transportation projects are on the horizon for the Front Range is no revelation. But for small construction businesses, cashing in on opportunities that transportation-oriented growth affords isn’t necessarily easy.
That was the thinking behind the inaugural Colorado Small Business Collaboration Conference. Held Thursday in Denver, the session brought industry professionals and state, local and federal agencies together to share information on how companies can land contracts as part of the multi-billion dollar development pot expected to spill over the state the next decade plus.
“The whole crux and significance of this event is Colorado is bursting with work right now and most of that work is coming from our transportation agencies,” said Adrina Gibson, manager of the Regional Transportation District’s small business office.
The event highlighted how companies can position themselves to earn contracts with RTD, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the City and County of Denver and Denver International Airport. Workshops covered certifications, contract negotiations, marketing and more. An exhibition area connected attendees with the agencies, prime contractors, consultants and partners.
More than 325 people pre-registered for the conference from 270 businesses, Gibson said. A point of emphasis for organizers was reaching firms owned by women and minorities. Counting the Interstate 70 expansion, National Western Center redevelopment and a $937 million bond package that will head to city voters in November, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock estimated there will be $5 billion in projects developed across the metro area over the next 10 years.
“I truly believe that it is a huge missed opportunity if we don’t use this opportunity to lift up, ensure real engagement opportunities for our small, women and minority businesses,” Hancock said in conference’s keynote speech.
Vince and Justin Gilmore of Montbello’s Gilmore Construction Corp. shared some of their expertise working as part of a minority-owned construction business Thursday. The company, started 20 years ago by Jake Gilmore, Justin’s father and Vince’s brother, has 50 employees and looks to add 10 more. It saw revenues exceed $25 million last year and is an on-call contractor for DIA, RTD and others, the Gilmores said.
“Construction is about managing problems. Owners know you’re going to have problems. What they want to see is how you handle it,” offered Vince Gilmore. “Communication is probably one of the attributes that helps us the most. We’re very good at communicating.”
Monika Stenger, owner/founder of Aurora-based Servitech Inc., a 27-employee electrical contractor, said attending the conference was worth a month of emails and phones calls.
“It’s a one-stop shop for a business owner like me,” Stenger said. “I can scope out who has large projects and seek out opportunities. It’s a huge tool for business development.”