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.
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."
Wilson 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.