The leaders of Chicago and Philadelphia transportation agencies signed a unique agreement last week to enable minority-owned contractors to work for both systems without the need for additional certification. The goal is to foster opportunities for small and disadvantaged business enterprises, and to help agencies find the contractors and subcontractors they need to carry out projects, particularly for federally funded work.
The reciprocal certification is an effort of the Equity in Infrastructure Project, which was founded last year by Denver International Airport CEO Phillip Washington, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari and others to get state and local agencies to hire underrepresented companies, especially as prime contractors, so that they can share in the benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Under the memorandum of understanding, companies that gain certification as a small business enterprise for either the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority or the Chicago Transit Authority will also automatically obtain it for the other agency. The hope is that eventually a large number of other public agencies will join, in effect creating a database of eligible SBE and DBE contractors that can quickly plug into work.