Metro Board looks to create more contract opportunities for local small businesses

The Metro Board has called for an audit of the agency’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. The DBE program attempts to create a fair and level playing field for small businesses competing for federally funded contracts.

Board members believe an audit is necessary to review the program and find ways to increase the number of local businesses eligible for the DBE program, including those firms run by women and minorities.

Last week the L.A. Sentinel ran a story about the potential lack of local minority contractors involved in the construction of the Crenshaw Light Rail Project. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who’s district include the Crenshaw corridor, is a member of the Metro Board.

You can learn more about Metro’s small business contracting practices in the Business Opportunities section of Metro.net.

The full press release after the jump.

Metro Audit Seeks to Improve Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses

Seeking to ensure that Metro is providing adequate contracting opportunities to small businesses, including those headed by women and minorities, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board has ordered a performance audit of the agency’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.

At the December 10 Board meeting, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined fellow Board members L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Board Chair and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, Richard Katz and Rita L. Robinson, General Manager, City of Los Angeles, Department of Transportation in calling for the audit.

It will evaluate program goals, the certification process, staffing levels and resources, and community outreach, among other efforts, to increase the number of local DBE firms that can be certified so they can compete for a variety of local and federally funded contracts for new public transportation and highway projects. A report back to the agency’s Board is due in March.

“Minority and small businesses create jobs and energize our local economies,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “That’s why Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and I worked together for better contracting opportunities with local minority and small business firms.”

“Thanks to the passage of Measure R, a new half cent sales tax for transportation, Metro is funding dozens of new bus, rail and highway projects in Los Angeles County,” said Robinson. “This has created unprecedented economic opportunities for small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities. I support the Mayor in making sure that these firms receive their fair share of the contract awards.”