Let’s face it. Starting your own business is tough. It involves saving, building a brand, and countless other hoops to jump through in order to cultivate a successful business. Add to the equation being a minority-owned or Black-owned business, and this presents additional challenges. However, by monetarily and vocally supporting minority-owned businesses as a community, this brings newfound opportunities for these businesses to thrive in a more equitable environment.
$5 million worth of contracts at PSTA are going towards small, minority-owned businesses. You’ve read that right. At PSTA, we’re fully committed to working with skilled, DBEs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) and minority-owned businesses and invites such businesses to contact PSTA to further discuss the possibility of a contract to work and partner with us. The primary goal and objective of PSTA’s DBE program is to level the playing field by providing small businesses owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals a fair opportunity to compete for contracts to work with PSTA.
In addition to working with DBEs, PSTA has launched a Diversity and Inclusion initiative led by Chief Executive Officer Brad Miller and our Human Resources Department. It’s a commitment from our entire agency to foster diversity and inclusion within our workforce, workplace, and community.
Some examples of goals and practices we are implementing as part of our agency’s efforts to cultivate a diverse workplace include expanding the recruitment, advancement, and retention of diverse employees. Every time PSTA interviews candidates for an open position, at least one of the candidates must be a person of color.
PSTA is committed to creating a workplace culture that gives a sense of belonging – expanding on diversity and inclusion. In order to do so, we are introducing a variety of committees and diverse groups for employees to take part in and meet regularly to engage, from LGBTQ and women in leadership groups to committees for employees of color.
As public servants, PSTA’s employees are challenged and encouraged to engage diverse perspectives in the broader Pinellas community. One way this is achieved is by encouraging our staff and members of the community to vote in both local and national elections.
Two ways we are engaging with the Pinellas Community during Black History Month are through our Black History Month bus wrap and with reserved seats on every bus in our fleet in Rosa Park’s honor.
We worked with a local black artist named Zulu Painter from St. Pete to bring a stunning mural featuring MLK to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in our community during Black History Month. His mission is to create “mindful murals for all to enjoy.” PSTA collaborated to create this bus wrap because we feel it’s important to honor all aspects of our community and the people who play a huge role.
"My mural featuring MLK is a visual reminder that community unity gains family fitness, mindfulness and love,” said Zulu Painter. “We all benefit from working together. Black history is American history we should all know."
In Pinellas, we are a diverse community, and we want to ensure everyone in our community is represented. And what better way than with beautiful art that reflects the values, legacy, and mission of Martin Luther King Jr.
Rosa Parks helped initiate the Civil Rights movement in the United States after she refused to give up her seat on a bus to make room for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Parks’ act of defiance has inspired activism, and she remains a nationally recognized symbol of dignity and strength in the struggle to end entrenched racial segregation. PSTA proudly recognizes Mrs. Park’s contribution to the fight for equality on transit, and we reaffirm our commitment to provide equitable and safe transportation for all. Each PSTA bus in our fleet will feature a reserved set in Mrs. Parks’ honor the duration of Black History Month in February.
Another way we plan to engage and help inspire our community during Black History Month is through sharing insight and the professional journeys of our business partners who contribute to our agency’s success and overall operation. Recently, we talked with our successful business partners who run Black-owned businesses, and here’s what they had to say with regards to the importance of supporting Black-owned and minority-owned businesses:
“When you look at it, businesses started by white people tend to have generational wealth that supports them. The friends and family round of funding is available because there’s a community that has the resources. In communities of color and lower-income communities, typically those resources aren’t there. The importance is to support economic inclusion within our community and its favorable balance of trade — essentially more money comes into our community than goes out of it.”
- Erik C. Smith, Managing Member for Inclusivity, LLC
“I think to the extent you spend a dollar in a black community, it’s spent several times. So, if you’re looking to revitalize and help black communities, one of the ways that you can do that is to buy goods and services from black-owned businesses who are then going to reinvest in their own community.”
- Nathan Niles, President & CEO of NexLyte, Inc.
“It is a win-win that helps support the overall community as well as the minority community. in terms of that partnership. And that’s what partnership is all about.”
- Elaine McCloud, President & CEO of McCloud Transportation + Associates, LLC
“I think Black-owned and diverse businesses help build resilient communities. People of color see things differently. We bring a different cultural perspective to problem-solving. Having a seat at the table and being part of the conversation allow for broader and more impactful solutions.”
- Cynthia Jones Parks, President and CEO of Jones Worley Communications
PSTA is actively committed to promoting Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives in support of our agency, minority-owned businesses, our riders, and the community – together, we are driving diversity initiatives each and every day.
We invite minority-owned businesses to fill out the following vendor application for a chance to potentially come work with PSTA. Sign up here.