Small and disadvantaged business opportunities are reaching beyond the established goals set on many of the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) contracts. RTD has exceeded its contracting targets for many small and disadvantaged contractors and subcontractors with awards totaling $480 million on base system and FasTracks projects such as the West Rail Line, Union Station in Denver, the I-225 Light Rail Line and the Eagle P3 commuter rail project.
In addition, RTD’s Small Business Enterprise/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (SBE/DBE), Workforce Initiative Now (WIN) and Technical Assistance Initiatives programs have helped hundreds of workers and small businesses in the Denver area.
Together, these four RTD programs have contributed to the Colorado economy and put Coloradans back to work during one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, said RTD General Manager Phil Washington.
“Throughout my career I’ve seen what unemployment and a lack of opportunities can do to communities in both big cities and more rural areas,” said Washington, who created RTD’s WIN program. “We implemented our SBE/DBE and WIN programs to train workers for RTD and the broader metro area community, and to give small business enterprises the chance to compete for high-profile construction and transit-oriented jobs that might not otherwise have come their way. In fact, we have worked tirelessly to create a culture that welcomes and promotes inclusion and diversity in every aspect of our operations.”
Creating opportunities for those who want to succeed is at the core of what RTD does every day, which is why the transit agency established four workforce and contracting programs through its Small Business Office that have contributed successfully to the local economy.
RTD designed its DBE program as a way of giving small businesses contracting opportunities on federally funded transportation projects and its SBE program to provide opportunities for small businesses on non-federally funded projects.
As just one recent example, RTD awarded four on-call construction contracts to prime contractors. Three of the four contracts went to African American prime contractors (Gilmore Construction, ITP and Sky Blue Builders). Each of the prime contractors is supported by diverse teams of Denver-area SBE/DBEs. The fourth prime (Krische) identified more than 20 Denver-area SBE/DBEs that subcontract for the company. It is anticipated that many of these small businesses will maintain and upkeep of RTD’s growing rail system in the future.
RTD’s WIN and Technical Assistance Initiatives programs also have supported Denver-area workers and businesses. WIN is a collaborative effort between RTD, the Community College of Denver, Denver Transit Partners and the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, and is being supported by a $486,000 Federal Transportation Administration grant.
Since October 2010, nine cohorts (groups) of up to 25 students each have gone through WIN, which combines classroom and in-the-field job training. Currently, through the WIN program 179 people are employed in 50 different disciplines within RTD’s FasTracks program, which is building out the region’s light rail and commuter rail lines. Additionally, WIN participants have been placed within RTD’s rail and bus operations divisions as administrative support, mechanics, operators and maintenance providers to support the current RTD operational requirements.
Through its Technical Assistance Initiatives program, RTD has developed and implemented a variety of support services and technical assistance initiatives to help prepare, grow and ensure the success of small businesses working and/or soliciting opportunities on RTD projects.
RTD has implemented insurance and bonding assistance initiatives, referral services to technical resources, revamped its Small Business Certification Program, put into action comprehensive compliance monitoring, and revised its contract language to better define the expectations as it relates to inclusion and diversity.
More importantly, RTD has entered into three comprehensive MOUs with community-based advocacy organizations and associations and created the RTD DBE Advisory Committee, which consists of various Denver-area stakeholder/advocacy organizations and associations. Finally, RTD Board Directors Barbara Deadwyler and Angie Malpiede co-chair the RTD Civil Rights Committee to help ensure inclusion and diversity of RTD services.
FasTracks is RTD’s voter-approved transit expansion program to build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, add 21,000 new parking spaces, redevelop Denver Union Station and redirect bus service to better connect the eight-county District. For more information, visit