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25 minimum requirements and release the DBE once the CHALLENGES RELATED TO DISADVANTAGED goal is met. Prime contractors that are identified as prob- BUSINESS ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT lematic are brought before the DOT's Prequalification Challenge #10: Lack of DBE firms that work as Committee, which has the authority to decrease or elim- prime contractors inate a firm's ability to work with the DOT. If contractors fall behind on their DBE utilization, the Seventy-two percent of respondents believed this issue was a DOT's compliance review officers identify these short- challenge and 50% viewed it as a significant or severe prob- falls and work proactively to assist the contractor with lem. In general, any supportive services initiative that helps bringing more DBEs to the project. DBE firms grow and develop may indirectly address this issue, because larger, more established firms are more likely to win Other relationship-building strategies may be useful in contracts as prime contractors. addressing this problem as well, especially those designed to foster communication and maintain successful partnerships Challenge #11: Larger, more established DBEs between existing partners. These include proactive project overshadow newly emerging DBEs, making it monitoring by DOT staff and early intervention when issues difficult for new firms to grow arise, and co-locating DBE subcontractors and prime contrac- tors on large construction sites. Fifty-nine percent of respondents believed this issue was a challenge and 26% viewed it as a significant or severe prob- One survey respondent raised an additional challenge: deal- lem. Programs targeted at underutilized and emerging DBEs ing with union contracts that require prime contractors to can help level the playing field for these smaller firms. For refuse to hire non-union DBE subcontractors. The state has example, RIDOT offers low-interest loans to underutilized responded by encouraging these contractors to negotiate DBE firms, which helps them bid competitively against larger project-specific labor agreements for non-union DBEs. firms. See Case Example #2 in chapter five for details.