OLR Mission: Helping the Small Contractor Succeed

[Photo: Participates at the Office of Labor Relations training]
Participates at the Office of Labor Relations training

Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma created almost incomprehensible destruction in states along the Gulf Coast. As communities reconstruct housing, public facilities and infrastructure, the Office of Labor Relations (OLR) is working to help businesses and residents rebound. In May, the Atlanta OLR brought a message of opportunity to Alabama contractors and small businesses seeking to help rebuild the devastated areas. Many business owners and contractors think only of "red-tape" when they think about government contracts and compliance with the myriad rules and regulations. For some, the thought of keeping up with Federal prevailing wage requirements is just too much to bear.

The good news is that the Office of Labor Relations is helping contractors doing business in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas get key information regarding Federal labor standards for government construction contracts that requires compliance with Federal wage and overtime requirements.

On May 4th, Dondra Merrell, Region IV's Regional Labor Relations Officer, along with Labor Relations Specialist Rhonda Lindquist, took HUD's message "on the road" and met with contractors, representatives of small businesses, public housing authorities, state and local government organizations, and other interested parties in Mobile, Alabama. This training session was held to inform contractors and small businesses about Federal Labor Standards and other related requirements as they relate to contracting opportunities on HUD funded or assisted work. At the workshop, sponsored by the Small Business Development Center, contractors and small businesses learned about the many opportunities available to them, and of the technical assistance the Development Center can provide in clearing procurement hurdles.

With a combination of agencies, small businesses, and contractor representatives in the audience, the workshop team also covered the gamut of labor standards topics, as seen from both private and public sector perspectives. Agencies learned how to streamline enforcement efforts to foster compliance; small businesses and contractors learned about the minimal paperwork requirements.

The host of the workshop, Thomas Palmer Tucker, Director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Alabama, described the scope of services and assistance the Center provides to small businesses and contractors. The Center maintains a database of participating agencies, and businesses/contractors can easily receive regular notifications by Email of contracting opportunities throughout the state.

Special guests included, Brenda Brown, of the Small Business Development Center in Mobile, Rob Grant of the Alabama Economic and Community Affairs agency, and Tracy Gordon of the Alabama Housing Finance Agency. These representatives were able to address specific opportunities available through their organizations, and answer questions about the procurement process.

We will hold additional outreach workshops in the Gulf States. With the help of contract procurement centers in each state, we will continue to help improve local economies by helping small businesses and contractors successfully compete for government contracts, thereby creating and retaining jobs and bringing other economic benefits to states and local communities. We want to help contractors and small businesses succeed! As they thrive, they also help create meaningful, skilled jobs for American workers pursuing the American Dream.

Content Archived: July 11, 2011