Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development: Creating opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses

Through multiple compliance programs, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) provides more inclusive, fairer opportunities for Louisiana businesses and employees working on transportation projects across the state.


Top executive: Paula Merrick Roddy, Compliance Programs Director 

Phone: 225.379.1382

Address: 1201 Capital Access Road, Baton Rouge, LA, 70802

Website: dotd.la.gov

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program—DOTD’s largest compliance program—establishes a level playing field for socially and economically disadvantaged contractors to work on federally funded projects, including highway construction, airport concessions and transit administration. 

Projects that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation and are more than $150,000 may qualify for DBE/SBE goals, which range from 4 percent to more than 20 percent of the awarded contract amount. DBEs/SBEs certified by the department can secure work as subcontractors for prime contractors or bid on projects themselves.

To qualify as a DBE, a business must be at least 51 percent minority- or woman-owned and cannot exceed a three-year gross-average business income of $30 million and personal net worth of $1.32 million. DOTD offers prospective DBEs/SBEs one-on-one, free meetings with consultants to help them prepare their application for department certification, and provides assistance after they are certified.

Since October 2022, DOTD’s three-year DBE goal has been 16.7 percent of all contracts committed per federal fiscal year. The department exceeded its previous goal of 15 percent. 

“We want to grow the program and see more small- and minority-owned businesses certified,” says Paula Roddy, Compliance Programs Director. “By doing that, we can place higher goals, which will create greater opportunities for small- and disadvantaged-business owners.” 

DOTD also administers a voluntary on-the-job training (OJT) program similar to an apprenticeship. The department reimburses contractors working on highway construction projects $3 per hour for training new employees or upskilling existing employees. To enhance workforce diversity, DOTD encourages hiring minorities or traditionally underrepresented groups, such as women, in OJT positions.

The department is in preliminary stages of piloting an additional OJT program. Working with the Office of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Family Services, DOTD’s program would provide a pathway for youth exiting the criminal-justice or foster-care systems to become trainees. A similar program in Washington state has had a positive impact on the same population of exiting youth. 

Other DOTD Compliance programs – including Contract compliance, Labor compliance, Title VI/ADA and Title VII/EEO, ensure employees are treated fairly, paid correctly, have proper working conditions and adhere to ADA requirements. 

“Creating opportunities for small- and disadvantaged-business owners to grow their capacity, helping new startups, making sure our youth are trained in areas that feed into employment opportunities with prime contractors, and ensuring people are treated fairly brings money into our economy and keeps people in Louisiana,” Roddy says. “That’s a win-win all the way around.”