By Lyle V. Harris
MARTA signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help start, maintain and expand small businesses in Georgia. SBA Regional Administrator Cassius Butts joined MARTA GM/CEO Keith T. Parker on March 3 for an official signing ceremony and small business networking event at the transit agency’s headquarters in Atlanta.
Through its Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, led by Executive Director Ferdinand L. Risco, MARTA works hand-in-hand with the SBA’s Georgia District Director Terri L. Denison, other government partners, local chambers of commerce and business organizations to cultivate business development opportunities for Georgia companies. MARTA, the ninth largest public transit system in the country, provides an estimated $2.6 billion economic impact to the state’s economy.
In his remarks, MARTA GM/CEO Keith T. Parker predicted the next few years will be critical to the agency’s growth and success. On March 21, MARTA will begin service in Clayton County, marking its first jurisdictional expansion since its inception more than four decades ago.
“As the economy continues to improve, more residents and visitors are choosing MARTA. We’ve made ridership gains and, with more customers, comes the need for more investment in the system,” said Parker.
“With that in mind, in December, we announced MARTA is boosting its commitment to small and disadvantaged businesses,” he continued. “Now, projects using federal dollars will require 30 percent participation from disadvantaged business enterprises through 2017.”
“It is a true honor to sign this historic Strategic Alliance Memorandum with MARTA. This living document will allow our organizations to reach more small businesses that are looking for greater opportunities. Relationships such as this are critical for the growth of our small business community. We are both committed to growing the economy, adding jobs, and helping to make Metropolitan Atlanta a place where small businesses will thrive,” said Cassius F. Butts, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration.
Prior to the signing ceremony, staff from the Small Business Administration’s Georgia office participated in a meet and greet with local small business owners. Other organizations represented included the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Business League and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.