In fiscal 2018, BART will work with a whopping (but very easily spent) budget of $1.92 billion. The funds are earmarked for new trains, track maintenance, station canopies, security, and earthquake retrofits — among other things. With every cent of the transportation agency’s budget under scrutiny, it is easiest to hire big companies whose fees are lower than those of their smaller counterparts. But in an effort to keep much of this money in the Bay Area, BART’s Board of Directors launched a Small Business Program in September 2011, providing a 5 percent “bid preference” for qualified small businesses — essentially giving them a boost over the competition.
Six years later, BART’s Board is revisiting the program, and now pledges to identify and support LGBT small-business owners.
“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,” says BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman. “We want to do everything we can as an agency to make contracting more inclusive.”
Despite the Bay Area’s generally progressive stance towards queer communities, LGBT businesses — particularly those in the construction industry — still face discrimination. So, on Sept. 14, BART’s Board will vote on whether or not to add several local LGBT contractors to its Small Business Program. Eligible contractors must be registered with 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.
“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.”