In order to work on a public project, payment and performance bonds are usually required. Since public property cannot be liened, a surety bond claim steps into the shoes of a mechanics lien to provide protection for subcontractors, suppliers, and other parties down the chain. Because these bonds are required, access to the bonds is a deciding factor in who can and cannot provide work on public projects. Lately, we have seen some legislation to open up the bonding process, and the For Change initiative in Kansas City works to do the same.
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Easier to Get Surety Bonds, Loans in KC
In the past year we’ve seen a New Jersey bill that will make it easier to obtain surety bonds, and Louisiana surety bonds have also become more accessible. This trend is a good sign for contractors looking to get their foot in the door on public projects. The For Change initiative in Kansas City goes a step further. The program focuses on local businesses owned by minorities and women. It’s goal is to eliminate hurdles so it is easier to get surety bonds and to make loans available to the businesses.
For Change was launched by Lead Bank and the city of Kansas City in the fall of 2015. According to Lead Bank, they have lent more than $6.6M under the intiative since the start of 2016. These loans range from $26K to $1.24M and help construction businesses owned by women and minorities complete Kansas City public projects.
Last November, Leawood’s Cornerstone Companies joined For Change to ease the process for these groups to get surety bonds. Companies that utilize Cornerstone under the For Change initiative receive a streamlined application process, lower costs, reduced underwriting requirements, and pre approval of bond and borrowing ability.
This move appears to be in line with our post claiming that surety bonds on public projects may get more accessible going forward.
For Change sounds like a good deal for everyone involved. Regarding minority and female owners, there are more loan options available than before and it’s easier to get surety bonds. For the bank and surety, customer bases are growing. Plus, doing some good in your community has both tangible and intangible benefits. Finally, for Kansas City, there are an abundance of positives. Most importantly, disadvantaged small businesses have more opportunities, and the increased competition for projects should help drive down prices. As long as the surety and bank are dealing on fair terms, which certainly seems to be the case, then this is your classic win-win-win situation.