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Monthly Archives: October 2010

At the heart of Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services is the motto “Of Like Minds”. It’s about bringing together people “Of Like Minds” in Community, Business and Collaboration to create fairness, equity and a positive impact that ripples out through the community and beyond.

That’s why we named the part of our company that brings individuals and organizations together through social and fund raising events “Of Like Mind Productions” (OLMP). OLMP has come to life as a representation of the Merriwether and Williams passion for fairness, equity and their connection to smart business. OLMP is a way to bring together outstanding individuals and organizations throughout the year who share Like Minds to:

  • Highlight the positive impacts that have been made in our communities by those who are willing to step beyond their comfort zone for the sake of others.
  • Celebrate these contributions and achievements.
  • Convene discussions to share insights and innovative approaches to removing systemic barriers to diversity and inclusion.
  • Connect the dots – bringing “doers” together for the sake of community growth and development.
  • Spur direct engagement with policy makers to increase opportunity and inclusion of diverase communities.

Of Like Minds Productions is also a way for Merriwether & Williams to say Thank You to our clients and give back to our community through social and fund raising events. We will periodically select an organization or charity that aligns with the principles Of Like Minds to be the recipient of our fund raising efforts.

We strongly believe that it takes a village to help each other create thriving communities. Of Like Minds Productions is an engaging way for us to seed collaboration and further fuel the passions of equity and fairness for the sake of growth in the communities we serve.

We hope you’ll bookmark the Of Like Minds Blog so you can continue to receive interesting, relevant and exciting news of various insurance and surety bonding programs available throughout the state of California.

Sincerely,

Ingrid Merriwther, CEO

Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services

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Sometimes even the most successful companies just need a little extra help. That was the case with EPI Construction, a general construction firm with annual revenue between $5-30 million that works mostly in the commercial sector. “A smaller-sized construction company with lower assets can have a difficult time competing with larger contractors,” explains Vice President John Rutter.

Enter the BuildLACCD Surety Bond & Finance Assistance Program, which gives assistance to local, small and emerging contractors looking to bid on projects with the Los Angeles Community College District. Their strong commitment to diversifying their contractor pool has made projects available so that smaller contractors can participate.

This is exactly what happened with a design-build contract for LACCD’s Los Angeles Harbor College Job Placement and Data Center Modernization Project. After EPI submitted a proposal and were selected for the project, they turned to the bonding process. “It’s a lot more difficult to get bonding with the downturn in the economy,” says Rutter. “They are a lot more careful and have more requirements.

Rutter attended a Boot camp sponsored by Build LACCD, where he learned about the Bond Assistance Program. The company enrolled in the program, and worked together with  the program team, the surety company, and their insurance broker for assistance in securing the bond. But it was the support of LACCD that made it happen. “Using their program guarantee pool, LACCD’s Bond Program guaranteed and put up an irrevocable letter of credit for $750,000 with the bonding company on our behalf,” explains Rutter. “That in a nutshell, allowed us to bond this project.”

In June, they were provided the guarantee, secured the bond, were awarded the contract and now the project is in the design phase, giving EPI the opportunity for their first project for a public entity. “I really think we would have struggled to bond this project if it weren’t for the assistance we received,” says Rutter.

Q&A With Joyce Sloss

Joyce Sloss is the director of the Business and Jobs Resource Center, which helps job seekers, emerging businesses, and student interns navigate and access employment, contracting and work experience at LAWA and the larger community.

Q: Can you explain the mission of the Business and Jobs Resource Center?

A: We connect the dots between access to small business and jobs for the underserved communities.

Q: What is the background of the Resource Center?

About 10 years ago, cities around the airport decided to sue LAX because of the negative impact due to expansion plans. But wise heads prevailed. Instead of giving the money to the lawyers, the two sides decided to figure out a way that everyone could benefit economically from the growth. The result was the Community Benefits Agreement. These are 7 tenets, everything from air and noise quality. One of the tenets was economic development, and the BJRC falls under this umbrella.

Q: How has the program evolved?

A: For our pilot program, we started out using faxes and email. Now, we work with a local African-American-women-owned company that provides us with a fully automated database that helps us with technology, but also human resource capital.

Q: How do you keep the community involved?

A: We have program partners like NABWO, the National Association of Minority Contractors, the Asian Business Association, and governmental agencies. Through these connections, we let businesses know about opportunities at the airport. We also have a meeting the first Wednesday of every month, where we talk about how to do business with LAWA.

Q: How do you work with the Bond Assistance Program?

A: The BAP is housed in the BJRC offices. They participate in all of our monthly meetings, and in pretty much everything that we do. We do a lot of mandatory pre-proposal meetings, and we always introduce the BAP program because with all of the construction we are doing, it’s an essential component. One of the biggest barriers to working on larger projects is the lack of bonding, and so this program is key in helping businesses expand their capacity to bond. It’s a major response to the need.

Q: What kind of economic activity do you anticipate with the construction at LAWA?

A: We’ve already spent $750 million to martinize Tom Bradley; that project is complete. Some of the plans on the table include adding additional gates to accommodate the double-decker A380 airbus, consolidating our rental car facilities, and a mid-field satellite terminal. That will impact the community in terms of jobs and business opportunities for local business, and that will multiply out. It’s quite a huge economic impact on the local economy.

To learn more about the Business & Job Resource Center, visit www.lawa.org/bjrc.