December 5, 2001

The Chicago Transit Board at its monthly meeting today approved a Business Development Program (BDP) designed to further develop the business skills of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms hoping to do business with the CTA. The CTA has an overall goal of providing 30% of its contracts to DBE firms. Disadvantaged Business Enterprises are defined by the Federal Transit Administration and the Small Business Administration as businesses owned by those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, minorities or women.

The program will provide opportunities for the DBE firms to gain experience by working on smaller projects as they move toward managing larger jobs. And it will provide training and development assistance as firms gain experience.

?The CTA serves a diverse community in the city and 38 surrounding suburbs. As a responsible corporate citizen, that diversity should also extend to our workforce and outside vendors," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?This Business Development Program is way for the CTA to help DBE's further develop their businesses as they compete to provide goods and services to the CTA. They will gain experience and the CTA will gain additional qualified vendors."

The Small Business Development Unit of the CTA's DBE Department will manage the new program with help from a program manager contracted by the CTA.

Participation by DBE firms in the program will be at no cost to the firms. However, DBE firms must meet certain federal criteria and be certified by the CTA.

The program will operate with a two-stage evaluation process consisting of a Developmental Stage and a Transitional Stage. The Developmental Stage will help participants overcome their social and economic disadvantage by Business Development Program Releaseproviding assistance that will enable them to access relevant markets and to strengthen their financial, managerial and capacity-building skills, giving them the ability to do more business. The Transitional Stage prepares participants to leave the program with the foundation, resources and knowledge to remain competitive.

Each firm will be assessed and placed in one of three categories based on its revenues and potential level of development. The categories are: Emerging Businesses ? firms in their first two years of start-up or with gross sales of approximately $100,000; Intermediate Businesses ? firms with about five years of experience and sales over $500,000; Established Businesses ? firms that already have government and private sector contracts and sales over $1,000,000.

Once these firms are able to compete in the CTA's contract procurement process, the increased competition will result in a greater pool of vendors being available to supply the goods and services provided to the CTA. The greater availability of vendors will enable the CTA to exercise competitive cost control for it and the customers it serves.

?By keeping costs for goods and services competitive, the CTA is better able to control operating costs," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?We are then able to concentrate our spending on critical services. The establishment of the Business Development Program also demonstrates the CTA's commitment to promoting business opportunities with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises."

The Business Development Program will provide services that include assessing the firm's business goals and capacity to achieve those goals; helping firms develop and submit a business plan; provide customized management training designed to make sure the firm is up to speed on industry knowledge; provide management development training in marketing, finance, information systems and economics; a management team will help the firm expand its present sales and identify new markets.

Once a DBE firm has successfully completed the Business Development Program, the CTA will graduate the firm from the program, allowing new DBE firms entry.

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