BART Hosts Virtual Speed Networking

BART has hosted virtual speed dating sessions where the agency interacts with up to 48 subcontractors to keep critical construction projects moving.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is working to increase opportunities available to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to continue essential construction projects and keeping small business employees on the job.

“We are actively soliciting as many small businesses as possible to help us with essential work that has to be done,” said Fei Liu, of BART’s Office of Civil Rights. “Some people say a large organization like BART, it can be bureaucratic. COVID-19 has forced us to be more flexible and innovative.”

For example, before the pandemic, BART held large networking gatherings where prime contractors would discuss the work they have available and interview small business subcontractors to look for a good fit.

At pre-coronavirus networking sessions, each prime contractor had a booth or table where subcontractors can make the rounds, giving their best elevator pitches in private discussions.

“That kind of set-up is not really possible with safe social distancing, so we have adjusted,” Liu said.

Now, prime contractors are setting aside a full day, for example, to hold virtual “speed-dating” sessions by teleconference, where in eight hours they will interact with up to 48 subcontractors.

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