Worker on Hastings Bridge.

New Project: Understanding How the Disparate Effects of COVID-19 are Affecting MnDOT’s Efforts at Equitable Contracting

MnDOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program was established by the federal government to ensure women-owned and minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to participate in MnDOT contracts.

Several contracting barriers exist for DBEs, which may have been exacerbated by COVID-19, such as access to capital, a shortage of PPE materials and staffing shortfalls due to workplace risks and caregiving responsibilities. 

“We’ve seen detrimental effects on minority-owned businesses in other industries,” explained Kim Collins, MnDOT’s deputy commissioner and chief administrative officer. “We want to see how construction and professional engineering services may be impacted by COVID.” 


A new MnDOT-funded study will examine the effects of COVID-19 on DBEs, needs that have emerged, and solutions that may help advance state contracting goals and offer potential to have greater impact post-pandemic. Researchers will interview business owners and key stakeholders to identify the following: 

  1. Unique challenges DBEs faced.
  2. How well DBEs have overcome those challenges and anticipate staying in business through this construction season and beyond.
  3. Opportunities for MnDOT to support DBEs (such as training, technical assistance and linking to other community small business resources).
  4. Support that state departments need to work effectively with and uphold contracting commitments to DBEs.

Project Details

  • Estimated Start Date: 12/1/2020
  • Estimated Completion Date: 6/30/2021
  • Funding: Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Principal Investigator: Moira Gaidzanwa    
  • Technical Liaison: Kim Collins   

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation to subscribe.

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