ODOT pledges to expand equity opportunities in the infrastructure sector


In late March, Oregon Department of Transportation Director Kris Strickler and Assistant Director for Equity and Civil Rights Erika McCalpine attended a signing ceremony for the Equity in Infrastructure Project (EIP). Oregon was one of 13 states to sign a national pledge to expand equity opportunities in the infrastructure sector.

Along with our cosigners, Oregon pledged to create opportunities for historically underutilized businesses as we disburse funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

How we will accomplish our goals

The signatories committed to expanding current initiatives by December 2025 with the following priorities:

  • Increasing the number, size and proportion of contracting opportunities going to historically underutilized businesses.
  • Increasing the number, size and proportion of contracting opportunities going to historically underutilized businesses as prime contractors.
  • Streamlining the administration of contracting with historically underutilized businesses to centralize certification, improve payment time, and standardize transparent data collection.
  • Increasing the amount and type of appropriate financing available to historically underutilized businesses; and
  • Expanding the number of pledge signers.

“We know that transportation decisions of the past have caused harm within communities and to historically underutilized business owners,” said Strickler. “In recent years, we have been intentional and committed to reducing barriers and creating opportunities for these businesses within the construction industry. By joining our peers in this project, we reinforce the work that we are doing and further our aligned values to support those who have historically been left behind.”

ODOT has a successful Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program that has met or exceeded its goals consecutively over the last five years. An advisory committee made up of DBE owners and community partners guides the program.

“The committee’s work is tied to assisting us in reducing the barriers they face when doing business in the construction industry,” said McCalpine. “I am proud of the work that ODOT is doing. While there is more to do, the initiative taken to join the Equity in Infrastructure Project shows we are committed to lasting change.”

The Equity In Infrastructure Project aims to support federal efforts to increase the number, size and proportion of contracts going to historically disadvantaged contractors. EIP participants have also committed to streamline processes for obtaining DBE certifications; improve payment time; and expand access to financing to help underserved businesses meet infrastructure contracts. Learn more about ODOT’s DBE program.

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