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Camp Springs firm to run minority business outreach center

The Board of Public Works is poised to award a Camp Springs firm the right to run a disadvantaged business outreach center within the State Highway Administration’s Equal Opportunity Office.

If approved at Wednesday’s meeting, TCE Inc. would create and operate the Maryland Business Assistance Resource Center for a year, beginning Thursday. The one-year deal is worth $490,750.

The center’s job is to train Maryland Disadvantaged Business Enterprises — small and minority-owned business entities — to effectively compete for federal highway projects and “move … into the economic mainstream of contracting opportunities with the Maryland Department of Transportation,” according to the board’s agenda.

Charlie Gischlar, a state highways spokesman, said the contract is being paid for by the Federal Highway Administration.

A similar program was created in 2009 and ran until 2010, said Cheryl Hill, SHA’s deputy administrator for administration. Twenty-five businesses went through the center in that span, during which time they partnered with the Delaware Department of Transportation on some federally funded highway projects.

Hill said she was not sure if the center would stay open past the length of the deal to be voted on by Maryland’s contract panel, comprised of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.

“It can be an ongoing program,” she said, “And, most likely, will be one.”

TCE, the low bidder among three finalists for the contract, was also selected for its “extensive experiences in providing technical assistance to small businesses, as well as having leadership expertise in gaining contract opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms,” the public works board’s agenda said.

The center would employ one project director, who would be responsible for ensuring the center met its goal of increasing disadvantaged businesses’ participation in federal-aid highway contracts.

Crofton-based McElroy Enterprise finished second in the bidding ($495,456) and Trenton, N.J.-based QWIC finished third ($643,552).