Metro to launch new initiatives to help underutilized minority business

Metro is launching two new initiatives to provide opportunities for small businesses that participate on select Metro projects. The idea is to require firms bidding on projects worth more than $25 million to include strategies to support smaller subcontractors — particularly those that are qualified as a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE).

Prime contractors will also need to identify in their bids areas where small businesses of various size levels, or tiers, will be able to compete for work. Metro also announced they will be eliminating their “good faith efforts” process to level the playing field for small businesses.

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will launch two new initiatives aimed at providing business development opportunities for historically underutilized businesses beginning Monday with the release of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) & Request for Proposal (RFP) for the final design and construction of the Purple Line Extension Project, Section 2.

The RFQ and RFP will be released together to expedite the process of selecting of the contractor to design and build the 2.6 mile Metro Purple Line Extension Section 2, which will run underneath Wilshire Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard to downtown Century City.

The RFP will require proposers to submit proposals that include an innovative Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Contracting Outreach and Mentoring Plan (COMP) to outline their approach to provide business development opportunities through two new initiatives:  Mentor Protégé and sized focused Tier Programs. The new initiatives will also be rolled out on all future Metro RFPs and Invitation for Bids for projects with an estimated cost of more than $25 million.  

“These opportunities are aimed at ensuring that the money we spend on improving our transit infrastructure is returned to the local economy to foster growth in the small business community,” said Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The Purple Line Extension Section 2 RFP will outline minimum criteria for the Mentor Protégé Program, emphasizing the proposer’s creativity in providing business development assistance to DBE firms in both design and construction phases of the project, including measurable plans to grow and build the capacity of DBE firms. 

“As Metro works on growing our region’s transportation network, it’s important that we give our historically underutilized businesses ample opportunity to develop and grow along with us,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington.

Proposers will need to identify strategies to create DBE subcontracting opportunities, based on firm sizes/average annual gross receipts defined by tiered size dollar thresholds, to further level the playing field for DBEs to compete for jobs within projects.  Proposers will be expected to develop and include subcontracting opportunities at those defined dollar threshold levels.

While there are specific components that are required to be included by Proposers in their proposals, Metro’s guidelines are not restrictive. Metro is interested in seeing creative strategies and innovative, non-traditional approaches that will include DBE’s in all phases of subcontracting. 

The Proposer’s plan will be evaluated as one element of the evaluation criteria in the RFP. Metro will review and approve each COMP submittal for the awarded contract. 

To reinforce its commitment to increase contracting opportunities for Small Business Enterprises (SBEs), Metro is also eliminating the Good Faith Effort (GFE) provisions from all non-federally funded requests for proposals (RFPs).  Removing the GFE reinforces Metro’s commitment to increase small business participation and to create a level-playing field for small businesses.  With the elimination of GFE, Proposers that do not demonstrate in their proposal meeting the SBE goal will not be eligible for award.  Additionally, Metro is in the process of amending SBE Program requirements to remove GFE language from currently advertised solicitations and future procurements.

The new initiatives are overseen by Metro’s Diversity and Economic Opportunity Department (DEOD), which also oversees Metro’s small business programs and certifications. More information about opportunities available to small business at Metro can be found at