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Office of Small Business Development and Labor Compliance

Sound Transit’s Office of Small Business Development and Labor Compliance (formerly the Diversity Programs Office) works to ensure the businesses and workforce building our regional transit represent the demographics of our region. Our mission is to influence stakeholders so that Sound Transit improves mobility for Central Puget Sound in ways that include the diverse people of the region.

As a recipient of Federal funds, Sound Transit implements a Disadvantaged Business Program (DBE) and a Title VI Program compliant with Federal regulations. The Office of Small Business Development and Labor Compliance also administers Sound Transit’s Project Labor Agreement to foster labor harmony and promote opportunities for women and people of color in construction.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

Here is a copy of Sound Transit's DBE Policy Statement.

The objectives of the DBE program are:

  1. Ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of federally-funded contracts.
  2. Create a level playing field where DBEs can compete fairly for federally funded contracts.
  3. Help remove barriers to DBE participation in the bidding, award, and administration of Sound Transit contracts.
  4. Assist in the development of DBEs so they can compete successfully in the market outside of the DBE program.
  5. Ensure that only firms that fully meet the eligibility standards of 49 CFR Part 26 are permitted to participate as DBEs.
  6. Ensure that the DBE Program is narrowly tailored in accordance with applicable law.
  7. Identify qualified DBEs that can provide Sound Transit with required materials, equipment, supplies, and services and develop good rapport with the owners and managers of said companies.
  8. Develop programs that will introduce prospective DBEs to Sound Transit’s contract procedures, activities, and requirements.
  9. Encourage DBEs to provide Sound Transit with feedback on existing barriers and how to eliminate those barriers.
  10. Administer the DBE Program in close coordination with other Sound Transit departments to ensure its success.

What is a DBE?

A DBE is a for-profit small business that is at least 51% owned by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. For details on additional criteria based on personal net worth and business size standards, please visit this website:

How does my business become a DBE?

In Washington State, you must be certified through the Washington State Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises. Please visit OMWBE’s website for additional information:

What is Sound Transit’s DBE Goal?

Our agency-wide DBE goal for each year from 2018-2019 is 16.1%.

Sound Transit also supports local small businesses to help them succeed in their work by connecting them with certification resources and prime contractors in the region.

Please see our Resources and Upcoming Opportunities section for additional information and resources for DBEs and Small Businesses.

For information on DBE Fraud please see these FAQs and this brochure.

DBE Technical Assistance

Sound Transit's Office of Small Business Development and Labor Compliance (OSBDLC) believes in leveling the playing field for all qualified consultants and contractors. It is our mission to help develop emerging and established Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and small businesses (SBs) so they can successfully compete on Sound Transit contracts. The agency's 25-year capital expansion program means the time to build DBE/SB capacity is now.

Through a needs assessment survey and interviews with primes, small businesses, internal staff and business organizations we have identified training topics and other training considerations. The OSBDLC has also identified partnering opportunities for select trainings and agency-specific trainings hosted by Sound Transit.

Our 'Master Training Attendee List' is a compilation of DBE/SBs who have participated in our technical assistance program. This spreadsheet contains; DBE/SB firm name, point of contact, expertise, and DBE/SB status as of Oct. 13, 2017.

Sound Transit's technical assistance program focuses on providing trainings that are meaningful and applicable to our contracts. Our trainings also offer valuable networking to help DBE/SBs build their network of associates.

Workforce and Labor Compliance

Sound Transit’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA) promotes:  our commitment to labor stability and a local workforce; apprenticeship and employment goals for people of color and women; and fairness in employment for both union and non-union contractors and craft workers without discrimination.

What are PLAs?

Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are collective bargaining agreements between building trade unions and contractors. They govern terms and conditions of employment for all craft workers - union and nonunion - on a construction project. PLAs have been used successfully for generations on public and private construction projects.

PLA background

On May 31, 1996, the Sound Transit Board adopted Sound Move - a 10-year Regional Transit System Plan. Commuter rail and light rail were included in the plan, which also included requirements for timely completion of the work associated with these two components of the system. On July 8, 1999, the Board adopted Resolution No. R99-21, establishing Sound Transit's intent to use project labor agreements for a portion of construction contracts and authorized the Executive Director to negotiate one or more project labor agreements consistent with objectives, key provisions, implementation and oversight and monitoring outlined in the resolution. After the conclusion of negotiations, the Board passed Motion M99-80 on Nov. 18, 1999, authorizing the Executive Director to execute the project labor agreement.

The Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is a stand-alone collective bargaining agreement that applies to Link light rail construction contracts and Sounder commuter rail station contracts. It was negotiated between representatives appointed by the State of Washington Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliate unions for labor, and Sound Transit for management. Organizations representing contractors and community also were included in negotiations.

THE 2011 PLA study

The study, completed by Agreement Dynamics, Inc., examined PLA performance and provided suggestions for improvement. Agreement Dynamics received input from more than 141 individuals and groups. Based on stakeholder feedback, the consultant compared the provisions of this PLA with other PLA projects in the region:  King County's Brightwater project, the Port of Seattle Airport PLA and WSDOT's 520 Pontoon contract (which is called a Community Workforce Agreement [CWA]).

Following the 2011 PLA Study the Sound Transit Board commissioned Agreement Dynamics to examine options for Sound Transit’s administration of the PLA.  In response, sound Transit developed a work plan that identified key stakeholder concerns and developed strategies and potential actions that could improve administration of the PLA.

Apprenticeship goals

By setting the apprenticeship utilization goal at 20% of the total construction hours worked, Sound Transit has set a high standard for projects. And it is helping improve the region by ensuring that there are opportunities for workers who want to get into the construction trades and there is a ready and able supply of trained candidates.

Preferred entry

This program has successfully helped underserved and disadvantaged populations gain access to apprenticeship opportunities in the construction industry. By partnering with programs such as Seattle Vocational Institute, Apprenticeship & Nontraditional Employment for Women (ANEW) and Helmets to Hardhats, Sound Transit helps place veterans, women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds into family wage-earning careers.

Regional Apprenticeship Preparation Integrated Delivery System (RAPID) Program

Also known as the”Nickel an Hour Fund”, RAPID helps prepare unemployed and underemployed populations compete for entry-level positions as preferred entry apprentices in the building and construction trades. Unions and contractors actively recruit RAPID graduates for entrance to and successful completion of State Apprenticeship Council approved apprenticeship programs. 


Title VI Program

Sound Transit's Title VI program ensures that no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, creed, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

In addition, Sound Transit complies with Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations," and the Federal Department of Transportation's Guidance to Recipients on Special Language Services to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Beneficiaries.

You can read Sound Transit's Title VI Complaint Process here. You can also access a printable copy of Title VI Information here.

Title VI complaints can be filed in any of the following methods:

  1. Fill out the complaint form and submit by email, mail or in person:

Fill out the printable complaint form in English or in Spanish.
and mail/take to: Sound Transit
401 S. Jackson Ave.
Seattle, WA

Email the form to:

  1. Directly with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) within the 180-day timeframe.
    Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
    Attention: Title VI Coordinator
    East Building, 5th Floor –TCR
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C. 20590

Note: To request information about Sound Transit's Title VI Policy, please contact: Mitzi McMahan at or 206-903-7158; and/or Mike Johnson at or 206-689-3325.

Diversity Oversight Committee

Updates, Resources, and Upcoming Opportunities

Sound Transit is committed to connecting small and disadvantaged businesses with resources to assist in connecting them to assistance they may need. Please see the Small Business Resource Guide for an overview of resources available in our region.

For information on how to be certified as a DBE in Washington State, please visit the Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprises at or download the fact sheet.

For upcoming procurement and contracting opportunities, please visit this page and download the ‘Current Snapshot of Solicitations’ pdf.

For information on ebid and general information on doing business with Sound Transit, please see this brochure.