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30 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS The results of this synthesis project point to several key find- group of DBEs grow, such as networking opportunities and ings. First, supportive services and training measures were training classes. widely used among respondents, as were several marketing and outreach strategies. Supportive services and training mea- States that use targeted measures stressed the importance of sures also ranked among the highest in terms of effectiveness. selecting the right firms to receive these benefits. Some states have found that evaluating the ways in which different DBE However, the strategies that were rated most effective by firms make use of the measures that benefit all firms is helpful survey respondents were not always the most commonly used, in assessing which firms are good candidates for those benefits and states that are less familiar with these highly rated strate- that need to be divided among fewer recipients. gies may wish to evaluate their potential for success. Two of these strategies--reserving small contracts for small busi- This synthesis considered the effectiveness of race-neutral nesses and using targeted loan mobilization programs--can measures from the perspective of state DOTs. A follow-up have high payoffs, but are challenging to implement. They project that examines the perspective of DBE firms on similar may require a state department of transportation (DOT) to seek issues would provide valuable insight for state DOTs on which enabling legislation or FHWA approval, or to identify funding measures DBEs see as most helpful. Feedback from support- sources or umbrella programs (e.g., finding a place for con- ive services staff could provide a useful perspective as well. tracting innovations within an agency's alternative contracting program). Second, follow-up research that identifies trends in states' use of race-neutral measures according to regional differ- Respondents wrote more comments about communication ences, agency size, or state and federal funding levels would and networking than about any other topic. Facilitating and allow states to further tailor their implementation of these improving communication between Disadvantaged Business measures to those that are best suited to their circumstances Enterprises (DBEs) and prime contractors is seen as critical and resources. both in establishing new relationships and in maintaining suc- cessful partnerships between contractors and subcontractors In addition, more research into how states implement more on existing projects. complex race-neutral programs, such as reserving contracts for small businesses, would be valuable. Because programs When states identified barriers to meeting their DBE par- such as these require more levels of approval than some ticipation goals, financial challenges such as a weak econ- other strategies, compiling model legislation and successful omy, high fuel costs, and DBEs' lack of access to capital practices for implementation would allow more agencies to were high on the list, as were DBEs' lack of experience and explore these programs. equipment related to specific work areas. States have miti- gated these challenges with measures that help individual Finally, data on the extent to which states have met the race- DBEs in a direct, immediately tangible way, such as by assist- neutral portion of their annual DBE participation goals would ing a limited number of DBEs in obtaining loans, bonding, or be beneficial in assessing the effectiveness of implementing insurance, and with longer-term measures that help a larger race-neutral measures as a group.