Sound Transit's Business & Labor Compliance Office is committed to supporting small and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) in the Puget Sound region. These resources are intended to provide general information and support services to help small businesses succeed. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of resources, however we hope it serves as a helpful starting point for small businesses. For general information on how to do business with Sound Transit, please visit our Procurement & Contracts Division.
Sound Transit resources and information
For general information on the Business & Labor Compliance Office, please visit our webpage or give us a call at 206-689-4914.
- Title VI Program: Works to ensure no person will be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subject to discrimination for any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance because of race, color or national origin. It also covers limited English proficiency populations and environmental justice applications. For more information please see this webpage or call 206-903-7246.
- Project Labor Agreement: A collective bargaining agreement between building trade unions and contractors. The PLA sets workforce diversity goals, defines rules and regulations regarding payment of workers and promotes fairness in employment for union and non-union workers. Visit our Project Labor Agreement page or call 206-689-4992 for more information.
- Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Fraud: Fraud is a deliberate deception to secure an unfair gain. DBE fraud can include bid rigging, bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentation of who is doing the work or who owns the company. For more information on fraud and how to report it please visit this webpage. You can also call our DBE Fraud Hotline and leave a message about suspected fraud: 1-877-480-6617.
Certification resources for Sound Transit
Sound Transit may set two kinds of numeric goals on projects with subcontracting opportunities: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals and Small Business goals. After thorough analysis, Sound Transit established the goals as a percentage of the project's total contract. For example, a project may have a DBE goal of 4 percent and a small business goal of 8 percent. For projects using federal funds, Sound Transit requires federal DBE certification. This certification is available through the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE). Only firms who have been certified by OMWBE as DBEs can be counted towards the fulfillment of the goal. To be counted towards the small business goal, businesses must meet the Small Business Administration’s small business size standards and be below $23.98 million in gross receipts over the last three years.
- Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises: Certifies at both the state and federal levels. The DBE certification is a federal certification. Details and applications are located on their website. Phone: 866-208-1064
- Small Business Administration: Has information on small business size standards. Phone: 206-553-7310
Additional certification resources
- OMWBE: Provides certification for a number of state certifications. These include Women’s Business Enterprises, Minority Business Enterprises, Minority Women Business Enterprise, Combination Business Enterprise and Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. Details and applications are on their website. Phone: 866-208-1064
- Small Contractor and Supplier (SCS): A King County certification program that increases the competitiveness of certified firms for good and services, consulting and construction contracts. The program also includes a training component.
Bonding assistance is available for small businesses to access higher levels of bonds and begin working on larger projects.
- Northwest Small Business Transportation Resource Center: Works to increase the ability of small businesses to compete and enter into transportation-related local, state and federal contracts. Provides business counseling, market research, certification, procurement and technical assistance. They also offer bonding and loan assistance. Phone: 425-248-4222
- Small Business Administration: Provides small businesses with a wide variety of services primarily through four programmatic functions: access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting and advocacy. They also offer surety bonds to small businesses. Phone: 206-553-7310
Loans and financial assistance is targeted to small businesses to grow or use as seed money.
- Seattle Community Capital Development: Offers training, coaching and loans to new and growing small businesses. Programs are available specifically for women, veterans and minorities. Phone: 206-324-4330
- Craft3: A nonprofit community development financial institution. Loans are available to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, individuals and others who don’t normally have access to financing. Also offered is expertise, networks and advocacy to clients. The focus is on minority, women and veteran-owned businesses in high poverty areas. Phone: 888-231-2170
- Small Business Administration: Provides small business with a wide variety of services primarily through four programmatic functions: access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting and advocacy. Phone: 206-553-7310
- Evergreen Business Capital: Provides loans to small businesses to assist in purchasing commercial real estate and equipment. They partner with lenders in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern Idaho. Phone: 206-622-3731
A wide range of training resources are available for small businesses to increase their technical expertise and capacity.
- Washington Small Business Development Center: Has various centers located throughout the state including Everett, Seattle and Tacoma. Client services include starting a new business, helping grow your business, starting or expanding exporting, cutting costs and updating processes. The center offers trainings and one-on-one counseling to small businesses including developing business plans. www.wsbdc.org
- Edmonds Community College: 425-640-1435.
- Seattle: 206-428-3022.
- South Seattle: 206-246-4445.
- Seattle Export Center (specializes in International Trade): 206-439-3785.
- Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC): Provides no cost, one-on-one technical assistance in all aspects of selling to federal, state and local governments. The center advises businesses on bid reviews, marketing assistance, contract performance and small business designations. They also host trainings and seminars. www.washingtonptac.org
- Snohomish: 425-248-4223
- King: 253-520-6267
- Pierce: 253-680-7054
- Native PTAC: Provides PTAC services (above) to Native owned businesses, Tribal governments, Alaska Native Corporations, Native Hawaiian Organizations, Tribal owned businesses and ANC and NHO owned enterprises. Phone: 206-816-6596; www.nativePTAC.org
- Northwest Small Business Transportation Resource Center: Works to increase the ability of small businesses to compete and enter into transportation-related contracts at local, state and federal levels. Provides business counseling, market research, certification, procurement and technical assistance. Bonding and loan assistance is also offered. Phone: 425-248-4222; www.dot.gov/osdbu/nw-sbtrc
- Greater Seattle SCORE: Offers free mentoring, templates and tools as well as low cost trainings and workshops. Programs for new and established businesses is also offered. Phone: 206-553-7320; seattle.score.org
- Seattle Community Capital Development: Offers training, coaching and loans to new and growing small businesses. Programs are offered specifically for women, veterans and minorities. Phone: 206-324-4330; seattleccd.com
- Small Business Administration: Provides small business with a wide variety of services primarily through four programmatic functions: access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting and advocacy. Phone: 206-553-7310; www.sba.gov
- Foster School of Business, Consulting and Business Development Center at the University of Washington: The center offers the Minority Business Executive Program and Business Certification Program. They also place student interns with businesses on projects to help grow their capacity. Phone: 206-543-9327; https://foster.uw.edu/centers/consulting-and-business-development-center/business-programs/
Individualized counseling and mentoring services are available locally to help small businesses with everything from developing business plans to understanding procurement guidelines.
Washington Small Business Development Center: Centers located throughout the state include Everett, Seattle and Tacoma. Client services include starting a new business, helping grow your business, starting or expanding exporting, cutting cost and updating processes. Also offered is training and one-on-one counseling to small businesses including developing business plans. www.wsbdc.org
- Edmonds Community College: 425-640-1435
- Seattle: 206-428-3022
- South Seattle: 206-246-4445
- Seattle Export Center (specializes in International Trade): 206-439-3785
Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC): Provides no cost, one-on-one technical assistance in all aspects of selling to federal, state and local governments. The center also advises businesses on bid reviews, marketing assistance, contract performance and small business designations as well as hosting trainings and seminars. www.washingtonptac.org
- Snohomish: 425-248-4223
- King: 253-520-6267
- Pierce: 253-680-7054
Native PTAC: Provides PTAC services (above) to Native-owned businesses, Tribal governments, Alaska Native Corporations, Native Hawaiian Organizations, Tribal owned businesses and ANC and NHO owned enterprises. Phone: 206-816-6596; www.nativePTAC.org
Northwest Small Business Transportation Resource Center: Works to increase the ability of small businesses to compete and enter into transportation-related contracts at local, state and federal levels. Also available is business counseling, market research, certification, procurement and technical assistance as well as bonding and loan assistance. Phone: 425-248-4222; www.dot.gov/osdbu/nw-sbtrc
Seattle Community Capital Development: Offers training, coaching and loans to new and growing small businesses. They have programs specifically for women, veterans and minorities. Phone: 206-324-4330; seattleccd.com
Small Business Administration: Provides small businesses with a wide variety of services primarily through four programmatic functions: access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting and advocacy. Phone: 206-553-7310; www.sba.gov
Veteran specific resources
- Seattle Community Capital Development: Offers training, coaching and loans to new and growing small businesses. Programs are specifically for women, veterans and minorities. There is also a Veterans Business Outreach Center Client Portal. Phone: 206-324-4330; seattleccd.com
- Greater Seattle SCORE: Offers Veteran Fast Launch Initiative that includes free software and services combined with SCORE’s mentoring program with the goal of accelerating the success of veterans and their families to succeed in small businesses. Phone: 206-553-7320; seattle.score.org
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization has numerous resources for veterans including how to start a business, financing, how to grow a business and finding opportunities. Phone: 866-584-2344; www.va.gov/osdbu/entrepreneur
- Small Business Administration: Office of Veterans Business Development offers resources, training and potential partners to veteran entrepreneurs, their dependents and their survivors. Includes Boots to Business, Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities and Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. Phone: 202-205-6773; www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/ovbd
- Veteranscorp.org: Works to structure and make connections between nonprofit and for profit small businesses and veteran/service disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Resources include training links and act a ‘clearinghouse of ideas.’ No phone number listed; www.veteranscorp.org
Permitting and licensing resources
- Washington State Department of Labor & Industries: Has a Help for Small Business website that includes information on business requirements and registration requirements as well as training and counseling resources. Phone: 800-987-0145; www.lni.wa.gov/main/smallbusiness
- Access Washington: A Washington State website that has information on Doing Business in Washington State. This includes licenses, permits, tax information and additional resources. No phone number listed; www.business.wa.gov
Organizations where membership is required to access many of the services offered.
- American Council of Engineering Companies Washington (ACEC): Professional association for the design industry. Advocates for improved business conditions for its members, provides business education and a variety of events and trainings. Phone: 425-453-6655; www.acec-wa.org
- Associated General Contractors of Washington (AGC): Professional association of contractors that provides services, benefits and advocacy for its members. Benefits include education, labor relations, networking, product discounts, legal assistance, health insurance and retirement programs. Phone: 206-284-0061; www.agcwa.com
- ASTRA Women’s Alliance: Membership organization to advance women-owned businesses. Offers support, trainings, advocacy and networking opportunities for its members. Phone: 503-941-9724; www.astrawba.org
- BNI Northwest: A networking organization built around the idea of referrals within their networks. Could be helpful to newer businesses looking to build a customer base. Phone: 425-391-6830; bninw.com
- Entrepreneurial Institute of Washington (EIW): Offers its members professional and leadership development, business support services and technical assistance. Hopes to have an incubator space in the future. Phone: 800-270-0724; www.eiwashington.org
- National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC): Provides education, training, advocacy and networking to address needs and concerns of minority contractors. Membership meetings are monthly. Phone: 425-444-2706; namcwa.com
- National Association of Women in Construction: Puget Sound Chapter #60 is a professional association of women working in construction and related industries. No phone number listed.
- Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council (NWMSDC): This membership based organization links minority-owned businesses to public and private agencies. Formal and information networking opportunities as well as advocacy and support is offered. Phone: 253-243-6959; www.nwmtnmsdc.org
- Tabor 100: A membership-based group for business owners and entrepreneurs. They are committed to economic power, educational excellence and social equity for African-Americans and the community at large. Phone: 206-368-4042; www.tabor100.org
- Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS): An organization that works to build the future of transportation through the advancement of women. Offers professional activities, networking, mentoring and access to industry and government leaders. Phone: 206-931-0875; www.wtsinternational.org/pugetsound
- Seattle Chamber of Commerce: Has a small business tools page offering a number of resources and guides to small business owners. https://www.seattlechamber.com/home/resources/small-biz-resources
- Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance: Provides a small business guide online that can help plan, run, grow or close small businesses in Washington state. General website: www.oria.wa.gov. Link directly to the PDF version of the guide: www.oria.wa.gov/Portals/_oria/VersionedDocuments/Business_Publications/small_business_guide.pdf
- Federal Transit Administration: Has a website with online presentations and videos to assist in training on civil rights related topics. Include DBE, Title IV, and EEO. www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/12885.html
- Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers: Free to clients that work with PTAC and is designed to to help small business owners and decision makers understand the government procurement and private sector procurement spaces. https://www.aptac-us.org/find-a-ptac/?state=WA
- Small Business Administration: Provides small businesses with a wide variety of services primarily through four programmatic functions: access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting, and advocacy. www.sba.gov
- NAICS Association: Resource to help firms identify their self-assigned NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes. Identifying these codes is a necessary step in the certification process. www.naics.com
Chambers of Commerce
- African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest
- Filipino Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest
- The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
- Japan-American Society
- Korean American Chamber of Commerce WA State
- Seattle Chamber of Commerce
- Taiwanese Chamber of Seattle
Accelerators and incubators
Support for new and emerging businesses including co-locating with other entrepreneurs.
Accelerators are short-term programs that invest in externally generated programs in return for capital and mentorship. They include:
- 9Mile Labs- a high-tech accelerator that focuses on B2B software and cloud technologies.
- Accelerator - a biotechnology investment and management company that identifies, finances and manages the development of emerging biotechnology opportunities.
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization- A Global business network of 11,000 individuals, in 150 chapters in 48 countries that focus on business growth, personal development and community engagement.
- Fledge- Operates three programs for entrepreneurs with a focus on making a measurable impact in the world. They are interested in investing in programs that improve lives, the environment, health, communities and making the world more sustainable.
- Founder Institute- Offers a four month, part-time program to help entrepreneurs launch technology companies through structured training courses, practical business building assignments and feedback.
- Madrona Venture Labs- Develops new companies from the ground up focusing on transformational products and staffed by hackers and designers.
- McKinstry Innovation Center- Brings together new and emerging companies in the same space where they work together. Mentorship, shared expertise and professional amenities are offered in four cluster areas: clean tech, education, high tech and life sciences.
- Microsoft 12-Works with startups globally at all stages to help them scale their business, bring innovative services to market and reach new customers using mentors and accelerator programs.
- Reactor- An initiative that is a part of the Washington Interactive Network that works to develop the next generation of talent for interactive media, including games and technology.
- Startup Next- A program geared to help businesses get ready for accelerators or investors. Offers a five week mentoring and training program to prepare new start-ups for the next step.
- Techstars- Provides seed money, support and mentorship for technology oriented companies that can have national or worldwide reach.
- Village88 Tech Lab- A stealth accelerator that works with companies at all levels of development providing them with various resources and support including engineering resources.
Incubators develop ideas internally and manages those ideas with a management team. They are longer term than accelerators.
- CoMotion (UW)- Provides dedicated space and facilities to support UW-affiliated start-up companies through their early stages of company and product development.
- Seattle Fashion Incubator- Offers independent fashion brands an environment to develop and grow their business including design space, goods and equipment, professional coaching and presentation space.
- SURF Incubator- Supports all stages of startup entrepreneurs as well as large companies needing a satellite location including mentors, interns, co-working space, collaborative learning and networking.
- William Factory (Tacoma)- Created to help business in East Tacoma improve living and working conditions. They house more than 40 companies in specialty trade construction, applied technologies and business services.
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
- Apprenticeship Programs: Apprentices must go programs that the Department of Labor & Industries regulates and approves. All information regarding how to become an apprentice, what programs are currently accepting applications and where to go for more information is located on their website. Phone: 360-902-5320; www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Apprenticeship
- Pre-Apprenticeship Programs: Labor & Industries also certifies pre-apprenticeship programs for those that are not quite ready to enter the trades as an apprentice. Their website has a list with links of those programs that are formally recognized as well as those not yet recognized. Phone: 360-902-5320; https://lni.wa.gov/licensing-permits/apprenticeship/apprenticeship-preparation