Inaugural ‘Women in Business Summit’ focuses on construction, transportation in Pa.

Workers apply high-friction surface treatment on Route 241 in Lebanon County. (Courtesy of PennDOT)

Workers apply high-friction surface treatment on Route 241 in Lebanon County. (Courtesy of PennDOT)

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Center at Cheyney University is hosting its inaugural “Women in Business Summit: Quality without Question” Wednesday, which focuses on reaching women and minority-owned construction, engineering, and landscaping firms.

The center is a shared initiative of Cheyney and PennDOT to assist women-led and minority-led firms in getting contracts with PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, state airports, transit authorities, and other agencies that receive federal highway funds.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2017 population survey, women make up 9.1 percent of the construction work force. Hispanics and Latinos constitute 29.8 percent of those employed in construction; blacks and African-Americans make up 6.1 percent; and Asians account for 1.9 percent.

The summit will offer workshops, such as leadership development and learning how to scale up a business, said Cynthia Moultrie, center executive director.

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“Our goal is to graduate firms out of this program, so we’re here to assist women in finding out how to get to that point,” she said.

Charlea Washington of Lane Construction Corporation, based in Connecticut, will be the keynote speaker. Washington is an avid support of small-business initiatives and labor laws.

To qualify as a DBE, the business owner must be a woman or a minority; the owner’s personal net worth must be under $1.3 million; and the company’s income must have averaged under $24,000 over the past three years.

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