The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) launched a series of innovative new outreach programs aimed at creating and expanding opportunities for minority-owned companies, as well as further diversifying the workforce on large CTA construction projects.

Over the last two years, CTA has introduced several new programs and initiatives to promote inclusion and provide opportunities previously unavailable to contractors and workers.

The newer CTA programs and initiatives have focused on promoting opportunities for business that are certified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs). These designations allow small businesses to participate in CTA programs that seek to help level the playing field in transportation contracting.

Over the last several years, CTA’s Diversity Programs Department has successfully expanded CTA’s training and curriculum for DBEs. The programs seek to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in CTA contracting opportunities through outreach and events throughout the year. Perhaps the best example of these types of new programs is CTA’s educational series, which features instruction from CTA prime contractors who provide their insight in areas like procuring business opportunities, managing projects, risk management, payroll, and successfully closing out projects.

CTA’s efforts are the outgrowth of the successful model CTA created for the 2013 Red Line South Reconstruction Project, which created a blueprint of how local government agencies should engage the communities they serve for both job and contracting opportunities.

  • The agency has created an RFP diversity scoring system for large contracts to encourage prime contractors to find new and innovative ways of reaching out to the DBE community, and also as a way to keep them accountable for their DBE commitments. The new system has led to improved contractor outreach.
  • CTA has also focused on creating opportunities for SBEs through a new program that allows the agency to set aside contracts for small business participation.

In 2018, CTA awarded 11 small business contracts totaling over $6.2 million.

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