District 7 Hosts Luncheon to Celebrate Calmentor Success
In the past two years, 17 contracts have been awarded to small businesses totaling $50 million.
Small businesses comprise 98 percent of all enterprises in California and employ 52 percent of the state’s workforce. But for many small firms, pursuing contracts with public agencies is a daunting task. That’s where the Caltrans Calmentor program comes in. Calmentor pairs small firms with larger mentor firms that provide guidance on contracting with public agencies. And it works.
Three Caltrans Districts—7 (Los Angeles and Ventura counties), 8 (San Bernardino and Riverside counties) and District 12 (Orange County)—celebrated the success of the program at the 2nd Annual Calmentor Luncheon, held at the Sheraton Fairplex in Pomona on Feb. 27. The luncheon recognized prime consultants in architecture and engineering for their efforts in mentoring small businesses. Honored firms included Althalye Consulting Engineers Services, Inc.; Caltrop Corporation; CH2M Hill; DMJM Harris; HDR; Jacobs Engineering; Lim & Nascimento Engineering; MACTEC Engineering and Consulting; Inc.; Santec Consulting, Inc.; and URS Corporation.
About 150 representatives from mentor and protégé firms attended the event, along with District 7 Director Douglas Failing, District 8 Director Ray Wolfe, District 12 Director Cindy Quon, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Economic Development Eloisa Klementich and CalTrans Deputy Director of Project Delivery Richard Land. District 7 Deputy Director of Program/Project Management Tad Teferi served as emcee.
Calmentor was created in 2005 as a partnership between Caltrans District 7 and the private consulting industry to promote and increase small business participation in architectural and engineering contracts. Caltrans Districts 8 and 12 joined District 7 in 2007 to create the Calmentor Southern California Alliance.
“All of a sudden, this program ran itself. It exploded,” said Failing, describing the program’s popularity in the business community.
Currently, 21 mentor-protégé pairs participate in Calmentor in Districts 7, 8 and 12. Four former protégé firms have gone on to become prime contractors, and one has mentored other small firms. In the past two years, 17 contracts have been awarded to small businesses totaling $50 million.
Protégé firms attending the luncheon described how Calmentor has given them the tools and expertise they need to pursue contracting opportunities with Caltrans and other public agencies. They’ve received guidance in marketing, accounting, human resources and planning, and have been able to cultivate productive, long-term relationships with their mentor firms.
Small business participation in contracting is especially important now as the state—and the nation—work to emerge from the economic downturn.
“As the current economic crisis unfolds, it is Secretary Bonner’s goal to usher in a new, collaborative spirit, which is why we are so supportive of the Calmentor program,” said Klementich, referring to Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Dale Bonner. “It will give us the greatest chance of expediting economic recovery through the state and restoring California to the economic luster that we’ve known.”
Recovery can’t come soon enough. “We have huge needs going forward,” said Land. It’s really going to take all of us in the transportation industry pulling together to accomplish the task of improving transportation in California.”
Calmentor is one way that District 7 is helping to achieve that goal.