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Disadvantaged and Small Business

Building stronger communities by supporting economic opportunity.

The Interstate Bridge Replacement program isn’t only constructing a bridge, it’s also building stronger communities by supporting economic opportunity.  

Disadvantaged and Small Business Enterprises are an integral part of the regional economy in the Pacific Northwest. The IBR program is committed to supporting the growth of these businesses by helping to remove barriers to contracting opportunities and facilitating relationships between contractors, big and small. From packaging contracts that create opportunities for smaller firms to writing specifications that encourage DBE/SBE participation, the IBR program seeks to ensure DBEs have the information and resources to thrive as part of the program.

Workforce Readiness in the Program Area 

The Interstate Bridge Replacement program recognizes that a skilled and diverse workforce that is ready to meet the challenges of the future is critical to the program's success. To identify strategies to improve workforce readiness and empower participation by business owners and workers of historically disadvantaged communities, a workforce study was commissioned by the IBR program. This study is a key step in understanding the gaps in the region’s current workforce and provides recommendations for how to bridge them. 

The study revealed significant growth in the number of construction workers added over the past several years, but a shortage of women and people of color. This exposes a deficiency in how the region will meet broader goals in the Portland metro area for diverse workforce utilization in upcoming infrastructure projects. The study offers recommendations for IBR's role in fostering diversity, and current discussions internally and with program partners aim to identify actionable strategies within IBR's scope. The program is committed to being intentional in how it pursues impactful measures to enhance diversity and inclusion in the regional workforce. 

View the results of the study: Workforce Market Study ReportWorkforce Market Study Summary

What is a DBE?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise is a small, for-profit business owned at least 51% by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.  

Groups that the federal government presumes to be socially disadvantaged include African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific and Subcontinent Asian Americans and women. Other individuals can also qualify as socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis. 

DBE Requirements and Certification

To participate in the DBE program, a small business owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals can apply for DBE certification from their home state — generally through the state’s Unified Certification Program (UCP). 

An agreement between the states of Oregon and Washington is in place creating reciprocity of DBE certification for firms working across the Columbia River. 

Future Contract Opportunities

The IBR program is committed to maximizing DBE participation in future contracts.  Construction work on the IBR program could begin as soon as late 2025 or early 2026.  

It is anticipated that there will be over two dozen contracts of various sizes. This work ranges from the replacement of the I-5 bridges over the Columbia River to local roadways, building construction and transit. 

Contracting opportunities for DBEs will exist within these larger contracts.  Work scopes for potential DBE contracts may include, but are not limited to, various types of work such as: 

  • Steel fabrication and erection  
  • Electrical 
  • Concrete 
  • Drilled shafts 
  • Asphalt paving 
  • Landscaping 
  • Trucking 
  • Excavation 
  • Traffic control  
  • Utility relocation 
  • Sound and retaining walls 
  • Stormwater management 
  • Excavation 
  • Shared use path construction 
  • Transit facilities 
  • Demolition 
  • Wetland mitigation  
  • Public art installations 
  • Roadway/asphalting 
  • Restoration under the bridge 
  • Third-party construction monitoring 
  • Clerical  
  • Financial 
  • Facilities support 

Measuring Participation 

For a complete list of IBR program participation metrics, please visit our accountability dashboard

Disadvantaged Business Participation Goals

Disadvantaged Business Contract Values

Awarded contract amounts to DBEs to date by race/ethnicity through December 2023*

Partner with Us 

The IBR program is partnering with small business organizations and workforce sector nonprofits that help women and minority owned businesses succeed. We want to work with you to extend our network of groups that offer resources for DBE firms and support to job seekers. Contact us for more information.