Next month, Chicago's Metra will launch a new initiative to help small businesses have a fair opportunity to do business with the agency and work on Metra projects.
The Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program is designed to increase the number of competitively awarded contracts to small businesses, maximize contract opportunities and minimize contract bundling.
To qualify as an SBE, companies must: be an independent for-profit business; have an owner whose personal net worth is $1.32 million or lower; meet the Small Business Administration’s size standard; and not exceed $23.98 million in gross annual receipts. Companies that are DBE-certified will be eligible to participate in the SBE Program since DBE businesses are also viewed as small businesses. The SBE Program is race- and gender-neutral, consistent with Metra’s goal to ensure that businesses of all types and sizes have the opportunity to participate in its projects.
“Our goal is to increase opportunities for new firms to work with Metra that have never worked with our agency before,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “This new program will assist leveling the playing field and allow a greater number of small businesses to compete for and win Metra contracts.”
Starting in June, Metra’s Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights will identify contract opportunities valued at $40,000 to $100,000 to set aside specifically for small businesses that have been verified by the agency. Metra anticipates identifying between 10 to 20 contracts to be set aside under this program in its first year and growing the program to include 50 or more contracts a year depending on the agency’s annual procurement plan and budget. Areas of opportunity may include landscaping, auto parts, etc.
To bid on a Metra contract set-aside for an SBE, a business must complete Metra’s SBE verification process or provide proof of SBE verification from one of the other four Illinois Unified Certification Program members: the Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and the City of Chicago.
On average, Metra’s SBE verification process is expected to take 60 to 90 days from the time the agency receives the application and all required documents.
Metra’s Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights works to certify businesses through its disadvantaged business enterprise program and verify businesses through this new small business initiative.