Commissioner Simmons hosts Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Infrastructure Network Dialogue in Jackson

Published 4:35 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

JACKSON, MISS.— On Tuesday, November 1, 2022, Central Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Civil Rights Division and Systems Consultant Associates, Inc. hosted a networking dialogue for local business leaders and transportation officials.

The meeting aimed to ensure Mississippi’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) have the knowledge, resources and information necessary to take advantage of infrastructure opportunities. The day-long meeting was held in Jackson at the Mississippi E-Center.

“Opportunities are here and the individuals in this room today have said to me, as Commissioner, that we want to do business with DBEs,” said Simmons. “They said, ‘We want to grow the DBE list. We want them to be successful, but we do expect them to perform effectively and meet standards required of them.’” These topics, among others, were discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

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Simmons said there are obstacles that can get in the way and put some businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to compete, whether it is their size, lack of resources, an inability to get funded, or a lack of knowledge when it comes to networking. The goal of Tuesday’s meeting was to further educate these businesses on these obstacles and the opportunities that are now here.

Panelists from MDOT were featured speakers at the meeting including Executive Director Brad White, Chief Engineer Brian Ratliff, Human Resources Director Terrance Yarbrough and Civil Rights Division Director Carolyn Bell. Other panelists included representatives from the Office of State Aid and Road Construction, the City of Jackson, Hinds County, Jackson State University, Jackson Public Schools and local businesses in the community.

“I am grateful for everyone that attended our meeting to learn about the contracting opportunities that are here for all businesses, regardless of size,” said Simmons. “I look forward to seeing what comes of our dialogue in the coming months.”

To learn more about MDOT, visit