Pictured, l. to r.: Steve Allison, VIA Board of Trustees; Tommy Adkisson, Bexar County Commissioner, Precinct 4; Lourdes M. Castro Rodriguez, President/CEO San Antonio Housing Authority; Henry R. Muñoz, III, Chairman, VIA Board; Dr. Richard Gambitta, VIA Board; Gerald Lee, VIA Board; Douglas Poneck, VIA Board; Lou Miller, VIA Board; Jeffrey Arndt, President/CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit.)
Photo credit: VIA
In recent years VIA Metropolitan Transit has made significant advances in the field of economic opportunity and diversity participation. At a media event held February 11, 2014, VIA officials announced that recent changes to its contract procedures have doubled the amount of awards and commitments given to minority businesses.
A new business/supplier diversity policy was enacted in March 2012 to increase disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) goals and encourage more participation of local businesses. This new policy made it a priority to enhance opportunities for small, minority, and women-owned enterprises wishing to contract with VIA, sending a message to the business community that VIA believes in open competition and opportunities for all competitors.
“My fellow board members and I reinforced the message of open competition by directing VIA to complete several policy changes and program design updates,” said VIA Board Chairman Henry R. Muñoz, III. “These efforts place small business participation firmly in the forefront of VIA’s procurement activities to promote growth through economic and employment viability.”
From 2012 through 2013, VIA exceeded its DBE participation goal by going from 27 percent participation to 38 percent in its yearly achievement. At the January 28 meeting of the VIA Board of Trustees, members of VIA’s Business Opportunity staff presented an update on recent successes in the program and announced a new goal of 30 percent for the years 2014 through 2016.
“We have made great strides in the DBE program in recent years,” said VIA President/CEO Jeffrey Arndt. “The Federal Transit Administration considers our efforts to be exemplary, and our success is a model for the nation to follow.”
As a recipient of federal funding for transit projects, VIA is required to set goals for the participation of disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) in the agency’s contracting procedures. A full 80 percent of procurements made by VIA receive federal funding, and the government – through the FTA – requires VIA to set DBE goals based on the availability of businesses in the market place that can do the work.