Lafayette airport commissioners to meet with firms interested in designing new, $90-million passenger terminal _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Sean Hooks, 4, of Las Vegas, balances on the window ledge in the Lafayette Regional Airport terminal as he waits for his flight back home with his family Monday, November 30, 2015, in Lafayette, La.

The commissioners who govern Lafayette Regional Airport are looking for minority-owned firms to participate in projects valued at $150 million, including construction of a new passenger terminal and runway improvements.

But few firms in Acadiana are qualified under federal guidelines for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprises program, commission Chairman Paul Guilbeau said, so the commission will hold two educational meetings and a workshop in April in Lafayette.

The commission is having a committee review the qualifications of design and project management firms. Later this year, construction companies will submit their credentials as they vie to build the projects over the next three to five years.

Whatever companies are selected will need a bevy of subcontractors to carry out the work, and federal guidelines carve out a percentage of the project for minority-owned companies. But those companies need to be qualified as DBEs.

“The prime contractors we select for those three contracts will have a mandate to meet the DBE goal, which the commission considers very important,” Guilbeau said in a news release. “That opens opportunities for qualified, certified DBE businesses related to construction who (choose) to pursue that work.”

Certification is done by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. To be included in the project, the minority-owned firms must contact the businesses that are awarded the prime contracts to express interest.

Two meetings on certification will be held at the Clifton Chenier Center, 220 W. Willow St., one at 5:30 p.m. April 6 with another to present the same information at 10 a.m. on April 9.

The sessions will be attended by representatives from the transportation department, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Small Business Development Center, Southern University Small Business Development Center, Lafayette Regional Airport and Lafayette Consolidated Government. The representatives will cover what the projects include, and they’ll define what a DBE is and what is needed to become certified.

At 9 a.m. on April 30, those representatives will conduct a workshop at the Clifton Chenier Center for hands-on help in filling out applications. All the sessions are free.

Companies already certified can receive help before the April sessions by contacting the Small Business Development Center at UL-Lafayette at (337) 482-6312.

Lafayette Parish residents voted to tax themselves one penny for each dollar they spent from April 1 to Nov. 30, 2015, to help pay for a new, bigger passenger terminal.

The $32.6 million in proceeds from those eight months of collections will be combined with state and federal money and borrowed funds to reach the $90 million it will take to build the terminal.