MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Horry County leaders say they want as many local contractors as possible working on the new terminal expansion project at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
Small minority owned businesses in particular, are being heavily recruited through special informational meetings like the one held Tuesday night at the James R. Frazier Community Center in Bucksport.
"We are reaching out to those businesses, helping them understand the process, and in some cases pairing them with larger contractors so that they will have an opportunity to bid the work," explained Rick Ott of M.B. Kahn Construction, who is overseeing the expansion project. "[Horry] County Council has encouraged the use of local contractors and local companies as much as possible."
For small business owners like David Singleton, who has been an electrician for more than 25 years, the opportunity to bid on a multi-million dollar project is the chance of a lifetime.
"It's a very big contract that we're looking to get certain portions," said Singleton. "There are a lot of contractors out there that are minority contractors who are out of work or business has slowed down - this is a great opportunity for us to get on board."
Corey Moody, another small business owner who specializes in masonry, says he couldn't be more thrilled.
"This is a good opportunity for us to get our business up and going," said Moody. "Right now things are kind of down because of the economy, this is a nice time for us to shine and get something going."
Developers with M.B. Kahn Construction Company have been working closely with members of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) to identify qualified smaller contractors who may be interested in the job.
James McQuilla, president of the South Carolina DBE, says members of his group have to turn in applications with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and meet specific requirements before they are a certified DBE member.
"Just because you're a minority-owned business or because you've been certified by the Governor's office as a minority business enterprise, doesn't mean you are a DBE," McQuilla commented.
McQuilla says there are advantages to becoming a DBE, such as routinely working with general contractors on larger projects, and he would encourage more businesses to apply for certification.
Horry County Council members have an agreement with the FAA to guarantee at least 10.7 percent of the overall terminal expansion budget to DBE members, meaning at least $10 million worth of interior and exterior construction work is up for grabs.
"We're reaching out to all the local contractors but especially disadvantaged businesses," Ott said.