Metro Magazine

JUL 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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16 < m ETRO m AGAZINE JULY 2014 metro-magazine.com HUELON HARRISON Legacy Resource Group Principal AS A SMALLER BUSINESS, WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES? Today, you will find more competi- tors in the market. In the past, many of the larger frms would not have an in- terest in the smaller projects. Te mar- ket has changed, and I now notice more frms going after the smaller opportu- nities. At one time, business develop- ment, the DBE coordination, strategic planning and compliance reporting were unique skillsets, and still are, but now larger frms will delve in just to be part of the competition and come in at a lower price than you can. A l s o, l a rg e r f i r m s u s e d t o e ngag e you early on in the process, and now, as the y manag e their cash flow and get their budgets in place, the y w ill bring you on later into a project. So, from a strategic planning standpoint, your three- to five-year plan is a little more difcult because you never know when your phone is going to ring. For instance, a larger frm may call you in January for an opportunity that starts i n Ju n e, bu t you m ig ht n o t g e t you r work order until the next January. So, you have to stay out there, keep net- working and continue on, but there is also a cost in doing that. DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO SPECIALIZE OR HAVE A BROAD RANGE OF SKILLS? I try to have a unique scope of what I deliver. I am not an engineer or contrac- tor, but I work with both of those types of frms and a lot of times the DBE coor- dination — vetting frms, working with frms once they are on board, and help- ing them with their growth or capaci- ty issues — is something you both have to have a passion for and a skillset to be able to do. Fortunately, I do that well and enjoy it, because I'm a small business myself. I find quite a few larger clients don't have dedicated staff to do those sorts of things. Also, from time to time, you get a request for a unique scope of work, and by being able to take that on, you prove yourself and show you have expanded capabilities, which can help your business. WHY IS THERE IS SUCH A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STATE AND LOCAL FUNDING AND FEDERAL SUPPORT? H e r e i n t h e Te x a s r e g i o n , f o r i n - stance, public transportation is viewed differently than in the past. It helps spur development and gives corpo- rations the initiative to move into the area — if you have trolley lines, rail lines, HOV and other transit options, it makes it more attractive for a firm to want to locate offices in your area. There is a way to measure the econom- ic benefits generated by putting in x miles of rail at x million dollars, and the numbers here in Dallas have been unreal, which makes it much easier from a local standpoint to sell a proj- ect. Once the trolley or rail line goes in, development will follow, and when development follows you get popula- tion growth. When you have popula- tion growth, you have tax base increas- es, which is a great selling point — the convention and tourism benefits, the e c o n o m y b e n e f i t s, s m a l l a n d l o c a l bu si ne ss b en e f i t s, a n d i t a l s o h e l p s stimulate competition for projects. JEFF BOOTHE Holland & Knight LLP Partner WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE GROW AMERICA PLAN? It is positive that the Administration has articulated a position — funding levels it would like to see, the struc- ture of the program and some of their goals around the authorization bill as this was not true for MAP-21. Yet, nei- ther Congress nor the Administration have identified a permanent, sustain- ab l e f u n d i n g s o u rc e l e av i n g t h i s a s an open question. The House lead- ership proposed to eliminate Satur- day postal ser vice, but it 's a tempo- rary fix. It solves a short-term problem but it doesn't provide funding beyond Spring 2015 and doesn't do anything to address the future. Once again, it is simply kicking the can down the road and avoiding the key issue, which is identifying a long-ter m sustainable funding source. There is a high probability we will come up with a solution that gets us t o t h e e n d o f t h e c a l e n d a r y e a r b e - yond the November elections as op- posed to moving a bill that has a sus- tainable long-ter m funding s ource. I don't think there is much expecta- tion for a sustainable long-term fund- ing source to be identified before the November elections. Don't take that to suggest that after the election Con- gress will somehow find the political will to provide a six-year, sustainable funding source, but at some point in time you have to think that doing the short-term fixes will become increas- ingly harder to do. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE RECENT PROGRESS IN THE SENATE ON A BILL? It was a bipartisan bill, which is a positive, and got ever yone on board in supporting moving a bill out of the Senate Environment and Public Works C o m m i tt e e. I w ou l d c ha ra c t e r i ze i t as probably more a placeholder than anything. The Senate is really taking the initiative and putting the ball in the court of the House of Represen- tatives and Senate Finance Commit- tee to try and move the discussion for- ward. There is frustration on the part of Senate leadership over the fact that, on the Democrat side, it is perceived as too small a bill, but there has also been no articulation yet regarding what the proper amount of the bill should be or how it should be financed. Now that House Transportation and Infrastruc- ture Chairman Bill Shuster's prima- ry is over, there is hope he will now be able to turn his attention to working on a bill and that he has some ideas CONSULTANT ROUNDTABLE

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