Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program

Supporting businesses owned by people of color and women

We believe the businesses and people building our transit system should represent the demographics and diversity of our region. That’s why we are committed to providing opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) in our efforts to improve mobility throughout the Portland area.

In order to accomplish this, our Department of Diversity and Transit Equity oversees federally-compliant DBE and Title VI programs. We also promote opportunities for women and people of color through our construction workforce hiring and training program.

What is a DBE?

Disadvantaged Business Enterprises are small, for-profit business that are at least 51% owned by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged, as defined by the federal government.

How does my business become a DBE?

If you’re interested in certifying your business as a DBE, start by checking out the U.S. Department of Transportation’s eligibility criteria. If you believe your business qualifies, consult the Oregon Certification Office for Business Inclusion & Diversity.

Ensuring a level playing field

Our DBE program is designed to create opportunities for DBEs as both prime contractors and subcontractors on MAX Light Rail projects. Ways we might do this include dividing projects into smaller bid packages to encourage small contractors to bid, or creating mentorship opportunities between smaller and larger firms.

Contracting opportunities

For each new project, we work with the prime contractors to identify subcontracting areas where we can include DBEs, including:

  • concrete
  • masonry
  • landscaping
  • paving
  • electrical
  • trucking
  • excavating
  • traffic controls
  • painting

Working with DBEs on recent MAX projects

We Built the MAX Orange Line Booklet thumbnail

We Built the MAX Orange Line

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We Built the MAX Orange Line Booklet thumbnail

Interstate MAX: a national model for DBE participation

TriMet and its prime contractors worked to ensure that the Interstate MAX Yellow Line was built by people from the community, especially from North and Northeast Portland. As a result, local DBE firms secured 19 percent of the contract dollars — valued at $35 million. The project has become a national model for DBE participation.

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Resources for DBEs and small businesses

If you’re a DBE or small business, or if you’re interested becoming certified, we can help you get the information you need.

Workforce Training and Hiring Program

In response to the declining number of qualified trade craft workers in the construction industry, we’re implementing a Workforce Training and Hiring Program to grow the pool of workers for future projects. Our program maximizes apprenticeship opportunities on our projects for people of color, women and economically disadvantaged workers. The goals include:

  • Our contractors commit to providing workforce training opportunities in all trades associated with an apprenticeship program
  • The percentage of workforce hours performed by apprentices will be at least 20% for each apprenticeable trade
  • Our workforce diversity will reflect the diversity of the Portland metro area

Register as a vendor

If you would like to be notified of future bidding opportunities that match your firm’s capabilities, please register as a vendor.


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