Over the weekend, Baltimore will host more than 600 members and friends of COMTO, the Council of Minority Transportation Officials, as they convene for the 47th annual National Training Conference. The conference is being held at the Hilton Inner Harbor from July 28 to August 1.
The conference will attract transportation industry leaders from around the country to share ideas, innovations and opportunities for career planning and development in related fields.
Founded in 1971 on the campus of Howard University, COMTO was created in part to provide a forum for minority professionals in the transportation industry. Its mission is to “ensure opportunities and maximum participation in the transportation industry for minority individuals, businesses, and communities of color, through advocacy, information sharing, training, education, and professional development.”
A. Bradley Mims is COMTO’s CEO and President, a native of Maryland and says “Maryland is located at Central East Coast transportation crossroads, has one of the strongest state economies in the country and boasts one of the wealthiest minority constituencies in the United States. It also has one of the most progressive/aggressive DBE/MBE Business contracting programs in the United States. Our very robust multimodal transportation infrastructure is being improved to meet the needs of our constituency for the 21st Century – all of which will be showcased at the 47th Annual COMTO National Meeting and Training Conference.”
Membership includes individuals, groups, transportation agencies, private sector corporations, non-profit organizations, and Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs). Maryland is one of 39 Chapters from across the country and last hosted the conference in 1998.
The co-sponsor of the conference is the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) which includes the State Highway Administration, Maryland Aviation Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the Maryland Port Administration.
“Partnerships with private companies allow us to share our resources on projects that benefit our communities and our businesses,” said R. Earl Lewis, Deputy Secretary for MDOT. “We have to make sure we’re engaging all of the stakeholders in the discussion as we determine how to best use these partnerships to connect people to life’s opportunities.”
Other sponsors of the conference include national and local private industry firms including Morgan State University and Visit Baltimore.
The conference offers workshops, panel discussions, and training for both professionals and students. It is also a platform to present new technologies and innovations to address growing increasing concerns addressing infrastructure and safety.
“Career and business opportunities in the transportation industry are vast and diverse. However, women and minorities are all too often unaware of these opportunities. COMTO is a leader in ensuring women and minorities are both aware and prepared for career and business opportunities in the various modes of transportation,” says Ricky D. Smith, CEO of Baltimore/ Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and COMTO MD Board member.
On Saturday, July 28 in addition to a golf tournament, COMTO partners with Morgan State University to present a Youth Symposium to learn about transportation related careers in civil engineering and design. It’s free and open to youth ages 11 – 18 (see flyer). It’s not too late to register.
Along with training and development, the conference offers an opportunity through technical tours to showcase innovative projects in Maryland. And no visit to Baltimore would be complete without an opportunity to taste the best crabs on the east coast with a crab feast cruise on the Spirit of Baltimore on July 29.
Co-Chairs for the conference are David Coyne, Vice-President of Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc., Carl Sajous, Director of Business Development at MV Transportation, and Meshelle M.V. Howard, Director, Division of Civil Rights and Fair Practices for MDOT Maryland Transportation Authority
Although full registration is closed, it’s also not too late for interested persons, including non- members, to register for one day to attend selected workshops and panel discussions. For more information, visit www.comto.org. To catch up with activities during the conference, follow the Maryland Chapter on Facebook at comtomd.