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Volume 1, Issue 43
February 24, 2010
Interested in selling to a city manager?   Here's what you should know! 
 
Mary Scott NabersSPI procurement consultants often have discussions with public sector decision-makers about contracting issues, concerns and preferences.  Recently, two questions were under discussion with sitting city managers:
 
- What do city managers wish government contractors understood better, and

- What would city managers like for contractors to know about cost-cutting proposals? 

 We found the answers particularly interesting and extremely timely.   
 
IN THIS ISSUE
Red tape slows stimulus projects
Broadband projects benefits higher ed
Education contracting opportunities abound
Stimulus news briefs
What the states are doing
Calendar of events
Don't miss another issue
Procurement and advocacy services
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. provides opportunity identification for all 50 states. Click here for more information.
Some spending of stimulus funds slowed by bureaucracy
More than $5 billion of Recovery Act money available for 2010 
Required clearance from state historic preservation agencies for some projects and compliance with wage laws and "Buy American" rules for others have all been contributors to delay of numerous Recovery Act projects nationwide.
 
As of Feb. 12, only $278 billion - approximately 35 percent - of the Recovery Act's total funding of $787 billion had been paid out. And only $76.9 billion of the act's $275 billion set aside for contracts, grants and loans - approximately 30 percent - had been paid out. The good news is there is $509 billion in stimulus funds still in the pipeline for a variety of projects. The bad news is that many of the projects for which funding has been made available have either not been started or have been slowed by bureaucratic red tape. While some of the dollars have been "obligated" for certain projects, those dollars have not reached the end user.
 
One major program showing dismal results so far is the Recovery Act's weatherization program. A recent report by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Energy showed that the program has gotten off to a very slow start. Some $5 billion was set aside for weatherproofing homes of low-income residents over a three-year period. Many states and local entities, trying to fill budget gaps, had already purged some employees from the divisions that would handle the weatherization program. And with the $5 billion to spend, up a remarkable amount over the previous fiscal year's $450 million, some recipients were finding it hard to deal with that much money with its current staff.
 
Additionally, contractors who chose to take on these projects were required to pay prevailing wages and that issue was not resolved until last October. The result is that only about 8 percent of the money for weatherization projects had been paid out through mid-February and only a little over 9,000 homes of the 593,000 funded had been weatherized. While dismal numbers of projects were being reported throughout the country, the numbers are currently increasing, according to representatives of the states.
 
Additionally, some transportation projects that involved rail stations, bridges and other infrastructure spent valuable time dealing with historic preservation agencies to ensure historical clearance. Buy American rules also delayed some projects as recipients in many cases found providers with products they needed but that were not made in the United States. While spending was slow in 2009, that translates into more money making its way to the states and more projects nationwide in 2010.

 
Broadband stimulus dollars to connect higher education
Five states to expand education opportunities with ARRA funds
Online education will get a big boost in the five states that were collectively awarded more than $300 million in broadband funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). While other states also received broadband funding, five of them earned awards geared specifically for higher education.
 
Florida's North Florida Broadband Authority was awarded a $30.1 million grant and a $9.2 million matching amount to provide high-speed Internet access to 14 underserved counties. The broadband network will link 300 colleges, libraries and government agencies.
 
Twenty-one Ivy Tech Community College campuses in Indiana will be connected to the state's high-speed network. A $25.1 million grant will be added to $10.7 million in matching funds for a fiber-optic network of more than 600 miles. It will reach both the Ivy tech campuses and more than three dozen other colleges.
 
A coalition of colleges and research institutions, the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, was awarded a $99.6 million grant to add fiber-optic cable to 39 counties. Another $28.8 million give to the State of Pennsylvania will expand Internet access in 32 northern counties.
 
The State of West Virginia was awarded a $126.3 million grant and will couple that with $33.5 million in matching funds to connect more than 1,000 public institutions, including colleges. The Future Generations Graduate School will use a $4.5 million grant with $1.2 million matching dollars to support community outreach in low-income and rural communities.
 
Libraries, schools and eight community colleges in Wisconsin will use $5.7 million in matching funds and $22.9 million in grant funds to connect them to the state high-speed network with more than 200 miles of new fiber-optic connections.
Education projects include building, security, technology
Michigan voters to face $73 million school bond vote
A $73 million bond issue will be put before Holland, Michigan, voters in May for building improvements and equipment purchases.  A $60.8 million proposal would upgrade and equip the district's school buildings and another proposal, valued at more than $12.3 million, would pay for renovations at Van Raalte Tech School and the Holland New Tech Academy, while providing new heating and cooling systems at each of the kindergarten through seventh grade buildings.

Enid, Oklahoma, voters approved bond issue
Voters in the Enid, Oklahoma, school district recently approved a two-part bond issue valued at nearly $100 million. The first proposition was for $800,000 for transportation needs. The second proposition includes improvements to virtually every school in the district, including ceiling tile replacement, parking, roofing, electrical upgrades, flooring, science lab improvements, heating and air conditioning projects and more. It also includes addition of new elementary schools on both the east and west sides of Enid, a 10-classroom wing addition to replace portables at one school, a new cafeteria at an elementary school, a connecting hall for an elementary school, technology for all schools, instruments for music education and new buses. 

Blinn College takes steps to build new dorm
Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, is looking to build a 350-bed dorm, if enough room for an accompanying parking lot can be found on campus. The dorm is one of three projects being considered by the college. Others are a band hall expansion and a new agriculture building. Officials are hopeful parking space can be found adjacent to or near the dorm site. The dorm is expected to cost approximately $10 million, while the ag building will carry a $3 million price tag and the band hall expansion would cost about $1.5 million. All would be paid for with revenue bonds. An additional $5.5 million would be raised with the bond issuance, totaling $20 million in bonds, with most of the money to be spent on the college's Bryan campus.
 
Indiana University trustees approve new construction
Trustees at Indiana University last week approved spending $44 million of an endowment grant on a new studio building for the music school in Bloomington. Trustees also OK'd $25 million for a new science and engineering lab at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis and $2 million to replace the Assembly Hall roof. 
  
New York school district approves capital improvement projects
In Kingston, New York, school district officials have selected five new capital improvement projects on which to spend funding on the third and final phase of a $21.3 million capital improvement project. They include $250,000 to remove an underground fuel oil tank at a middle school, $275,000 to replace bleachers at the high school field house, $90,000 to replace stage rigging and curtains in the high school auditorium, $80,000 to replace 14,000 square feet of flooring with vinyl composition tile at the Salzmann Building corridors and $12,000 to replace stage curtains at an elementary school. Other projects include replacing an elementary school roof and renovations to the high school auditorium.
 
$4.5 million transit center on tap for University of Michigan
A $4.5 million Central Campus transit center has been approved by the University of Michigan regents. The project includes resurfacing North University Street between Fletcher and Church streets, repairing an undersized city water main, adding bike lanes, reducing traffic from two lanes to one in each direction, creating bus drop-off line and adding larger covered shelters, improving plaza areas to improve pedestrian traffic and safety and creating an accessible entrance to the Ruthven Museum. Half of the funds come from the Recovery Act.
 
Missouri State considers $52 million for construction projects
Officials of Missouri State University are debating whether to issue up to $52 million in bonds for improvements to its academic and auxiliary buildings. If approved, the bonds would likely be used for construction on residence halls, the university recreation center and its West Plains multipurpose center. Other projects under consideration are work on the Darr Agriculture Center, Looney Hall at the West Plains campus and an addition to a physical therapy building.

School bond sale projects include construction, security, technology
The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, school board has approved the sale of a $19 million bond, which is expected to set off a round of school and school district improvements that will eventually total $295 million. Among the projects for this $19 million bond are $12 million for design of portable classrooms removal projects, $1 million for infrastructure and repairs, $1 million for security designs and activities and energy management projects, $1 million for instructional allocations to schools, $2 million for bus replacements, $1 million for technology upgrades and enhancements and $1 million for instructional technology.
 
For information about these and other funding opportunities,
contact Reagan Weil or Richard Hartmann at 512-531-3900.
Other national contracting opportunities
Seattle Mercer Street project garners $30M in funds
Thanks to $30 million in federal funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grant program, Seattle has now secured $140 million for its Mercer Street project. The project will rebuild the artery west of Interstate 5. Another $35 million from a state grant will go toward the state's U.S. 395 North Spokane Corridor Project.
 
Wisconsin city plans to spend $7 million on rebuilding roads
Thanks to city and state funding, some $7 million in roads will be rebuilt in Wausau, Wisconsin, this year. The funding will pay for rebuilding and widening part of Sherman Street while reconstructing portions of Third Street. The widening of Sherman Street to four lanes from 17th to 22nd avenue will cost approximately $2.2 million. Reconstruction projects on Third Street will cost $2.6 million. Work is expected to start in May and conclude in November. Other street projects will carry a $2.45 million price tag and will include installing curbs and gutters and reconstruction of 13 blocks on Highland Park. 
 
California bridge set for $70 million in improvements
The Foresthill Bridge in Placer County, California, will undergo $70 million in upgrades aimed at improving the seismic stability and structural integrity of the bridge. Bids for the project will be sought soon. Officials note the bridge in its current state could be vulnerable to earthquake damage. The project will include a seismic retrofit, paint job, installation of a new catwalk and more. The project has been awarded more than $65 million in federal and state funds and Placer will contribute $4.4 million in local matching funds through a transportation bond program dedicated to local road and bridge projects.
 
LAX renovation carries $1.55 billion price tag
Groundbreaking has been slated for the $1.55 billion Bradley West Terminal project at the Los Angeles International Airport. The project will add 1.25 million square feet of building area to the Bradley International Terminal. The existing building will be gutted in two phases and a new concourse will be built to the west. The project is the most expensive in LA municipal history. The cross-field taxiways will be spaced further apart to accommodate wider superjumbo planes. A bridge over the new taxiways will be built to carry people-movers to a second concourse. New customs and immigration facilities will be built for incoming passengers and there will be a new security screening area for those embarking. Stores and restaurants are also in the plan.
 
Research library to be built at Mount Vernon
A $38 million gift to George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Virginia will be used to build a research library on the grounds. The new library is expected to include 45,000 square feet and will house 45 books from Washington's library.

Three bridges near Portland to be replaced in next two years
Three bridges in the Portland, Maine, area will be replaced over the next two years at a cost of $100 million. Some $60 million in federal highway funds will be spent to replace the Veterans Memorial Bridge connecting Portland and South Portland starting this summer. In 2012, the Martin's Point Bridge between Portland and Falmouth will be replaced at a cost of $30 million and $7.5 million will be spent this summer to widen and rehabilitate a bridge over the Presumpscot River.
 
Cherokee Indians to invest $633 million in casino additions
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians plans to invest $633 million to transform Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel into a resort where one can not only gamble, but also play golf, visit a spa and shop. The project will double the size of the casino floor, add 532 hotel rooms, a 3,000-seat events center and a spa, restaurant and retail stores. 
 
Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bridge to get upgrade
Originally estimated to cost as much as $1.7 billion, the Kosciuszko Bridge over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is about to get an upgrade. Officials this week rolled out several designs, including expanding from three to five lanes toward Brooklyn and four toward Queens. It will also have a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane. The State Department of Transportation expects the project to begin in 2014 and be completed several years later. Most of the costs will be paid by the federal government. 
 
Massachusetts Port Authority approves $1 billion for 379 projects
More than $1 billion in funding for 379 projects has been approved by the Massachusetts Port Authority as part of its five-year capital improvement plan. The projects will be implemented from this year through 2014. Among the projects are an expanded safety area for a runway at Logan Airport,  repair and renovation of the Terminal B Parking Garage,  centralization of the security checkpoint at Terminal C, building a rental car facility, security enhancements throughout all facilities, an upgrade to the Conley Container Terminal in South Boston and upgrades to the Cruiseport Boston passenger terminal. The Terminal B Garage will include the use of solar panels on the garage and LED lights in the garage, road and walkway. The car rental will be designed to meet LEED Silver certification.
 
Disabled veteran-owned businesses sought for new signs, fencing
Businesses owned by disabled service veterans are being sought by the National Cemetery Association to bid on the procurement and installations of new signs at Fort Bliss National Cemetery as well as installation of fence for a storage yard.
 
Forest Service seeking HUB businesses for projects in national forest
The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking quotes from HUBZone businesses for purchase and installation of concrete vault toilet facilities in the Santa Fe National Forest and for construction of host site improvements as well.  
 
For information about these and other funding opportunities,
contact Reagan Weil or Richard Hartmann at 512-531-3900.
Stimulus news briefs
Florida schools, shelters to benefit from solar energy grants
The Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa Beach has been awarded $10 million in Recovery Act funds to distribute in the form of SunSmart School and E-Shelters grants. The schools and shelter program pushes the use of renewable energy by use of solar energy systems installed at either type of facility. The program also supports solar energy education initiatives for students and renewable energy curriculum training for teachers. The program also can provide energy during power outages. Some 90 schools named to serve as emergency shelters will be eligible for the grants.
 
Railyard road work about to go out for bids
The City of Sacramento will soon seek bids for $100 million in road work projects related to its downtown railyard. Nearly $30 million of that is stimulus funds. There will be four contracts - totaling $117 million. They include construction of two pedestrian routes connecting the railyard with Old Sacramento and downtown, two bridges linked to downtown and the relocation of some train tracks. After the tracks are relocated, there will be room for an expanded transit facility. The Sacramento Kings NBA team has indicated it might be interested in building a venue for the team at the railyard. The railyard will eventually include shops, offices and homes and will cost billions to develop.
 
Ohio to use funds for transportation project
Nearly 300 alternative fuel vehicles and 15 refueling stations are coming to Ohio as part of the state's Ohio Advanced Transportation Partnership. The initiative, funded by $11 million in Recovery Act funds, was announced this week. As part of the program, Alliance AutoGas will retrofit 77 vehicles in three Ohio fleets, to run on propane AutoGas and will install refueling sites at each of the fleet bases. Three different cab companies in Columbus and Cleveland will all convert vehicles with Alliance. The conversion is expected to lower fuel costs for fleets while reducing greenhouse emissions. 
 
Energy efficiency, green projects set in California cities
Energy efficiency and green retrofits are coming to San Francisco via a $3 million award from the State Energy Program. The initiative will provide service to Bay Area families living in affordable housing and will lead to retrofitting 26 buildings over the next two years. The initiative will provide technical support and loans to projects in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland and other Bay Area cities. Loans will be used for water efficiency improvements to existing but older affordable multifamily housing developments and will be repaid through savings on utility expenses. Some 1,300 apartments in the target area are expected to be served, reducing energy and water consumption by at least 25 percent.
 
For information about these and other funding opportunities,
contact Reagan Weil or Richard Hartmann at 512-531-3900.
What the states are doing
Three Minnesota cities - Minneapolis, Two Harbors and Wabasso - are scheduled to receive $28.5 million from the state of Minnesota for drinking water projects. Some $7.6 million of the funding comes from Recovery Act funding. The funds will help improve water quality and create construction jobs.
 
Bus and street projects in Kansas City, Missouri, will have $50 million to spend from Recovery Act funds. The project will include everything from sidewalk and street repairs to laying a foundation for a regional express bus network to link Kansas City with Johnson County and Kansas City, Kansas. Approximately $8 million will be set aside for replacing the Troost Bridge over Brush Creek, another $8 million will be used for sidewalk and curb repairs, $6 million will help resurface substandard streets and $4 million is planned for traffic signal upgrades.
 
Three ports in Maine collectively will share $14 million in Recovery Act funds to help them diversify their customer base. The International Marine Terminal in Portland will get $5 million to improve pier access and cargo handling. The Port of Searsport has been awarded $7 million for new equipment, including a heavy-lift mobile harbor crane. The Port of Eastport will get $2 million for a warehouse, conveyor equipment and storage pad.
 
The City of Amarillo, Texas, will install 5,300 LED traffic signal bulbs with $299,000 in Recovery Act funds. The money is part of $1.8 million the city received from the Federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant through the U.S. Department of Energy for energy-saving projects. The grant will also pay approximately $780,000 to install energy-efficient lighting at six sports fields and the center plaza of the city's sports complex.
 
Some $345,000 in stimulus funs will go toward an $824,000 project to extend wastewater and sewer lines in Minneola, Florida. The lines will be extended about one mile along U.S. Highway 27. The new lines will allow businesses, including a prison, to hook into the city's wastewater treatment plant. Those facilities have been using private wells or septic tanks. Stimulus funds will pay for approximately 47 percent of the project cost. 
 
The Port of Quonset Point in Providence, Rhode Island, will get more than $22 million in stimulus funds to improve its dock and buy cranes to help it accommodate a wind turbine developer and serve container cargo ships. The crane will be capable of lifting up to 200 tons and the pier will have to be reinforced to hold such heavy loads. Other funding will be used to improve railroad access to the pier and build roads leading to the site.
 
Expanding U.S. 491 from two to four lanes between Gallup and Shiprock, New Mexico, will be paid for with a $31 million allocation to the Navajo Nation. The federal stimulus funds will be used to add a lane in each direction and reconstruct existing roadway.
 
A fiber-optic network will be installed in DeKalb County, Georgia, with $13.2 million in federal and state funds. Recovery Act funds amount to $11.9 million for the project. The money will be used to improve Internet access through a broadband grant. The new network is expected to serve 3,600 businesses and 34,000 homes in the county.

Strategic Selling to GovernmentProcurement Consulting
Calendar of events
 
Public workshops available for those interested in broadband grants, loans
A series of public workshops will be held to review the application process and to answer questions from applicants for upcoming National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) funding through the Recovery Act. The workshops will be in Portland, Ore.; Reno, Nev.; Denver, Colo.; San Antonio, Tex.; Eureka, Mo.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Detroit, Mich.; Blacksburg, Va.;  Fayetteville, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga. Click HERE to register for the workshops. Applications will be accepted from Feb. 16 through March 15 and awards are expected to be announced by Sept. 30. All Interested parties can register for the workshops at www.broadbandusa.gov. The agencies will distribute $4.7 billion of their total $7.2 billion for infrastructure grants and $3.5 billion to support  grants and loans to facilitate broadband deployment in rural and remote areas.
 
Energy Innovation Summit slated in March in D.C.
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)  "ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit" is planned for Monday through Wednesday, March 1-3, at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Hosted by ARPA, the summit is organized by the Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization and will serve as a forum for the nation's energy leaders to share ideas, collaborate and identify key technology opportunities and challenges. Those attending will include members of the scientific and research communities, investors, technology entrepreneurs, corporations with an interest in clean energy technologies, policymakers and government officials. The summit will spotlight some of ARPA-E's first round of 37 winning research projects. For more information and to register for the summit, click HERE.
 
Small business briefing conferences slated in Texas
The last two sessions of the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Business Outreach and Program (BOP) Services Small Business Briefing conferences have been announced for April 1, 2010, in Dallas and June 15, 2010, in Texarkana. The conference goal is to provide small and minority-owned business communities an opportunity to learn more about contracting opportunities with TxDOT. Information will be available to help them do business with the agency and the State of Texas. The sessions not only allow small businesses to be introduced to TxDOT and other state agencies, but also allows them to learn more about the economic development opportunities in their regions. It also allows the agencies to show the myriad of opportunities available for small and minority businesses in the state. For more information, click HERE or call 1.866.480.2518, Option 2.
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