The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County unveiled two programs to create equal access and opportunities for veterans and people living with disabilities interested in doing business with the agency.

METRO’s board of directors approved the Veteran Owned Business Enterprise and Disability Owned Enterprise programs during its Sept. 22 meeting.

"This is a step in the right direction to benefit many business owners in their reach," Board Chair Sanjay Ramabhadran said at the Sept. 22 board meeting.

According to METRO’s disparity study, certified veteran-owned businesses received only 5.5% of prime construction contracts and less than 1% of professional services contracts from 2013-18.

Through these programs, METRO will identify and target veteran- and disability-owned businesses more effectively; implement more inclusive practices; and assist in providing a full and fair opportunity to compete for procurement opportunities with the agency, according to an agency press release.

METRO’s renamed Office of Small Business—the Office of Economic Business Opportunity—will run the Veteran Owned Business Enterprise and the Disability Owned Business Enterprise programs. The Office of Economic Business Opportunity also operates the agency’s Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs with an annual goal of 35% small-business participation.

“It’s a great addition to our family of opportunities for the community,” Board Member Lex Frieden said at a Sept. 14 administration committee meeting.