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METRO President & CEO Urges Asian Community to Get On Board
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 5:39 PM

 

In the next four years, METRO expects to spend more than $2 billion to build five light-rail lines - and METRO wants Asian American companies to grab a piece of that business. Logo of Asian Chamber of Commerce

That was the message today by METRO President & CEO Frank J. Wilson at a lunchtime speech to the Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce.

"If you've never ridden the train in your life, or if you don't even like the train, look at this from self-interest and greed," said Wilson. "This program is as real as it gets. It's the time for you to start focusing on how to get involved, not just as users."

Frank Wilson, METRO President & CEOWilson pointed out to the 119 attendees at the Westin Hotel that $80 million have already been spent this year on professional service contracts with Asian firms - firms that are represented well in architecture, engineering and professional services. In fact, 8 percent of our contracts are held by Asian orAsian American businesses.

But Wilson said that should not be a ceiling, and Asian companies should not be satisfied with $6.4 million METRO contracts already awarded to Asian firms. (Photo is file photo and not taken at the lunch).

"I'm inviting you to pay attention to what we're doing," said Wilson. He said that 10,000 jobs would be created by METRO's light-rail building program known as METRO Solutions - and those jobs will have a secondary impact on the economy.

"There may be more opportunities than you think, depending on your business," said Wilson. "While the Asian firms represent 8 percent of our market, why not 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent? METRO doesn't have a cap on what should go to Asian firms or any other firms, for that matter."

Wilson pointed out milestones - or gold medals - that METRO has already achieved toward building these light-rail lines:

 

  • Records of Decision by the Federal Transit Agency for the North and Southeast Corridors- important decisions that allow METRO to apply for federal funds.
  • A consent agreement with the City of Houston to use its right-of-way to build the five light-rail lines.
  • Launching of East End construction in July.
  • A schedule that expects to break ground on construction in September for the North and Southeast Corridors.
  • January 2009 construction start date for the Uptown Line.

In addition, Wilson said METRO is launching two new services late this month: Quickline Signature bus service, a forerunner of light rail that features fewer stops, hybrid buses and real-time bus arrival information; and Airport Direct, a shuttle service that offers direct service from downtown to Terminal C at IAH every 30 minutes, for $30 roundtrip.

Gordon Quan, chairman of the Asian Chamber of Commerce and managing partner specializing in immigration law at Quan, Burdette & Perez, said it's often a challenge for small companies to conduct business with a large government agency.

"Often, businesses are hesitant. They think, ‘I'm just a little guy.' The Asian community has a great deal of talent I believe METRO can use," said Quan. "Frank telling of the plans for METRO's future encourages people to look at METRO as a potential client and a source for business."

Wilson assured the business men and women at the luncheon that METRO wants to do business with them. "The gate is open. The project is there. You can earn your own gold medal," he said.

 

 

Comments

DominicMazoch said:

I have a BIG problem with this.  If a company can do the job correctly at the lowest cost, no matter who owns it, great!

But I don't hink METRO should be "forced" into doing these type of contracts IF, and ONLY IF:

1.  Any other part of USDOT does not have to.

2.  TXDOT does not have to.

3.  HCTRA does not have to.

4.  Harris County does not have to.

5.  COH or other ccities does not have to.

This sounds like something from ANIMAL FARM:  All...are equal, but some...are more equal than others.

Either you can do the contract or not.  That simple.

# August 13, 2008 6:46 PM

Royko said:

DominicMazoch,

Now you're starting to understand.  METREAUX seemingly wants to feather the nests of as many minority comapnies and consultants as necessary, possibly to keep them from opposing these boondoggles which will predictably decimate the businesses existing in the corridors (as with Main Street).  The urban rail robber barons will be playing Monopoly, using the "Windfall" sales tax money along with the billions in bonds which will have to be paid back by the taxpayers of our future generation.

In the process, the poor, minority, elderly, and handicapped bus transit dependent riders are the ones being abused daily throughout the service area.

One should not be surprised to learn later that the big winners from the tram extensions likely will be the political insiders and cronies, with thier snouts buried deep in the publicly-funded trough.

# August 13, 2008 6:57 PM

DominicMazoch said:

Royko,

The same rules would apply if METRO were to build BRT.

These rules have to go, not matter what. Period.  On ALL transit projects.  Nationwide.

Long term this will make interacial affairs  WORSE, not better.

# August 13, 2008 7:35 PM

George said:

Folks,

As a past participant in METRO's small business program, I would like to offer a few thoughts:

Of the few small business programs offered by public entities in our area that I have been able to identify, it is my impression that METRO offers one of the strongest: its goals are clear, it actively seeks participation, it teaches small business owners presentation and networking skills, and it offers small business owners the opportunity to meet directly with contacts from large businesses in our area.

It is also my impression that small business owners who participate in this program include the poor, minority, elderly, and handicapped, as well as members of these groups who are white.

In addition, I have found the people who work in METRO's small business program to be nothing less than completely devoted to giving every small business owner an opportunity to participate in METRO's projects, including those managed by larger companies.

# August 14, 2008 12:23 AM

don said:

Maybe in 2042 when whites will become a minority I will be able to get one of those sweetheart contracts. Only problem is that I will 105 then.

# August 14, 2008 10:24 AM

DominicMazoch said:

I was at HQ one day, and there was something in the Board Room.  I think it was an open house for companies wanting to make contracts with METRO.

That part I don't mind having something like that for all who might be interested.  

But who came up with this 10% rule?  Inside which Beltway?  Number 8 or 495?

# August 14, 2008 6:23 PM

C said:

QUESTION???

4 years / 2 BILLION = 500 Million per year

Why cant we buy some new buses??? Im sure MCI (or Prevost :) ) wants a piece of the $2+ Billion.

And I wouldnt have a problem with the rail, but it doesnt go anywhere near where I live. So it serves no purpose for me. And I have ridden the thing to Reliant Park a few times for games and it makes me sick. You have those smelly people getting on and off. ewww! I want new buses.

# August 17, 2008 4:41 PM

C said:

WAIT A HOT MINUTE!!!

"and Airport Direct, a shuttle service that offers direct service from downtown to Terminal C at IAH every 30 minutes, for $30 roundtrip."

Why cant we get some 30 minute "Express" 102 trips? There arent that many people (non-employees) who ride the bus from the airport to/from dowtown anyways. I may see 2 or 3 non-employees on the bus coming or going to the airport. If I see a new MCI Hybrid leaving with 2 passenges or none every 30 minutes, I will make a big fuss. And I wont stop until something is done. That is crazy

I promise you that route WILL NOT carry more then 2 people. I guess the airline employees will have to stick to the crappy 102 service. Im sure a lot of them cant afford $30 / day.

Make it affordable so everyone can enjoy the "express"

$3 one-way is a fair price

# August 17, 2008 4:48 PM

C said:

WAIT A HOT MINUTE!!!

"and Airport Direct, a shuttle service that offers direct service from downtown to Terminal C at IAH every 30 minutes, for $30 roundtrip."

Why cant we get some 30 minute "Express" 102 trips? There arent that many people (non-employees) who ride the bus from the airport to/from dowtown anyways. I may see 2 or 3 non-employees on the bus coming or going to the airport. If I see a new MCI Hybrid leaving with 2 passenges or none every 30 minutes, I will make a big fuss. And I wont stop until something is done. That is crazy

I promise you that route WILL NOT carry more then 2 people. I guess the airline employees will have to stick to the crappy 102 service. Im sure a lot of them cant afford $30 / day.

Make it affordable so everyone can enjoy the "express"

$3 one-way is a fair price

# August 17, 2008 4:48 PM
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