BART poised to take historic step to welcome LGBT contractors
BART’s Board of Directors will vote on changes to the agency’s Small Business Program that would open the door for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender businesses to help rebuild the system. BART’s full board is likely to vote at its September 14th meeting to add LGBT contractors to the program that provides bid preferences for qualified small businesses.
“BART has established a track record of prioritizing local, small, disadvantaged, and women-run businesses and this change will be a natural extension of those efforts,” said BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman. “We want to do everything we can as an agency to make contracting more inclusive.”
The proposal comes after the BART board in April voted to add a local small business preference for Measure RR funded contracts. That preference only applies to small businesses whose principle place of business is in Alameda, Contra Costa or San Francisco counties.
LGBT businesses still face barriers in the marketplace, especially in the construction industry. The changes would mean certified LGBT contractors would be eligible to receive a 5% bid preference on small business prime contracts. Those contractors would also be eligible for the increased preference cap on Measure RR funded contracts.
"We need the best, most experienced and talented firms to help us reinvest in BART's next 40 years,” says BART Board Director Bevan Dufty. “I am proud we are now welcoming LGBT-owned businesses to be part of this vital effort."
To qualify under the proposed new policy an LGBT contractor would have to be certified by either the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce or the California Public Utilities Commission as well as certified as a small business by California’s Department of General Services.
BART first launched its Small Business Program for non-federally funded contracts in September of 2011. The program provides a 5% bid preference for qualified small businesses primes and on larger contracts for bidders that meet a small business subcontractor participation goal.
BART plans to reach out to local LGBT Chambers of Commerce to inform them about the new policy. Outreach partners include the Golden Gate Business Association, Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley and Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. The goal would be to implement the modifications to BART’s Small Business Program by early 2018.
BART is also hosting a free informational meeting about upcoming Measure RR opportunities for all small businesses. The meeting will be Thursday, September 7th from 3-5 pm at the Joseph P. Bort Metro Center, which is at 101 8th Street in Oakland. The event is accessible by BART from the Lake Merritt Station. RSVP at bartmeasurerr.eventbrite.com by September 4th.
Nearly 70% of district voters approved Measure RR in November, which will raise $3.5 billion in bond money to address BART’s critical infrastructure needs. More than $440 million of that money will fund project work through fiscal year 2019.