HCC, Colorado’s Diversity Leader, Announces CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt selected for Community Advocate Award

September 19, 2017 - Denver Metro Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - Denver, CO  HCC Colorado’s Diversity Leader (formerly Hispanic Contractors of Colorado) is pleased to announce our major award winners, who will be recognized at our 28th Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, February 24, 2018.

Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation has been selected to receive the Community Advocate Award.

The award recognizes individuals who have been advocates for diverse businesses and communities, especially as it impacts the small contracting community.

During Bhatt's tenure as executive director, CDOT has raised its commitment to increasing small and diverse business representation in Colorado's transportation sector, implementing new programs that are first of its kind in Colorado.   Among the achievement being recognized are:

  • The Local Hire Initiative for Central-70 which has grown to encompass other public entities and supportive service agencies.
  • CDOT’s Neighborhood Career Training & Resource Center, located in the Swansea/Elyria neighborhood, has been launched to provide training to underserved populations.

The training center and foundation investment will support a first-in-Colorado local hire program requiring that 20 percent of the Central 70 work force – the equivalent of approximately 350 local residents – be hired from 15 local neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 in Denver and Aurora. Last year the U.S. Department of Transportation gave CDOT – one of only nine other transportation agencies nationwide – permission to pilot a local-hire program for Central 70.

“The Central 70 Project is by itself a major economic driver for the entire Denver-metro region. CDOT wanted to also ensure that these economic and job opportunities were made available to local residents,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. “CDOT is one of only a few DOTs in the nation to implement local hiring and we are doing this not just by setting hiring goals but by actively reaching out to our partners to create a comprehensive support system that makes a career in construction accessible for everyone.”

Additionally, Bhatt is being recognized for continued investment and outreach to the small and diverse business community.

  • The ESB Program has a full-time Small Business Civil Rights Specialist and CDOT is becoming a leader in capacity building.
  • Launched the Construction and Professional Services Forums which are providing opportunities for direct input to CDOT contracting processes – and we’re seeing results as more and more DBE/ESB firms are reporting that they have a CDOT contract.

"Colorado has a rich and vibrant transportation sector and we are committed to ensuring and growing opportunities for small and diverse businesses to thrive," added Bhatt. "Partnerships with organizations like HCC help us to extend our reach into the communities and tap the talent who will help Colorado grow."

HCC is also recognizing the National Western Center for positively impacting diverse construction-related businesses.  Following are the achievements being recognized:

  • The enterprising partnership with the City & County of Denver, Western Stock Show Association, Colorado State University (CSU), the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and History Colorado.
  • The vision in creating a year-round destination for  education, research, entertainment and agribusiness innovation.  It will become an epicenter for community-centric, experiential, life-long learning opportunities to inspire innovation and solve global food issues. 
  • Much of the development will have MWBE goals, creating the opportunity for capacity building in the MWBE contracting community over multiple years


Established in 1990, HCC Colorado’s Diversity Leader is a trade association and diversity leader in Colorado focused on public construction.  Our 140 member companies include some of the largest contractors in the U.S. and some of the smallest in Colorado, as well as A/E firms, construction industry suppliers and service providers, plus public entities.