PALMDALE, Calif.–When opportunity knocks, it is probably a good idea to answer. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has initiated business opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners everywhere, particularly for minorities. While there is still some speculation as to when the rail will be built, there is hardly any doubt that the Authority will break ground eventually.
In the mean time, CHSRA is reaching out to business owners statewide to jump on this opportunity for growth and wealth.
Thomas Hart, Esq., vice president and government affairs and general counsel for the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association, says this growing industry is one minority and Black owned businesses should not pass up.
“There are a number of opportunities across the board, ranging from construction and engineering, and vendor services,” Hart said. “Whether you are selling steel, working in electronics, or any number of areas, this is a new industry, a multibillion dollar industry coming to California.”
While there are some businesses already contracted with CHSRA, hundreds of opportunities in finance, travel, marketing, public relations, and sales are also available.
“There’s a substantial amount of money to be made,” the executive said. “This was just the first installment (of federal funds). There is $500 billion to be spent on high-speed rail nation wide for the next 25 years. If that’s not enough for minority businesses to get involved, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves (Black people).”
Hart has a standing reputation within the technology industry, and for the past 30 years, he has watched non-Black people make the money in growing industries. He says this is the chance for minorities to get involved before the window of opportunity closes.
To bring your business to the high-speed rail means being proactive. While CHSRA frequently post proposals on its website, Hart recommends entrepreneurs attend high-speed rail seminars to obtain more information. The next one will be held in New York in November. He also says local government officials, particularly Congressional members, should have more details.
But it seems like local folks are scrambling for the details, because they seem hard to come by.
Gene Hale, president of GLAACC, says the opportunity is great, but it will not be beneficial if the Authority does not have a small business and minority business plan.
“We have to ensure that they have some small business goals,” he shared, explaining that with federal funds, the organization needs to have some sort of disadvantaged business agenda. “They really need to connect with communities. If they don’t, then it’s going to be business as usual.”
According to Hart, it is a goal nationwide with the high-speed rail association to include minority and women owned businesses in the project, however, at this point in the discussion, the association does not have a specific number it is trying to reach.
“The legislation is being debated. That’s why we need advocacy and letters to be written to ensure a substantial amount of minority and women owned business involvement,” Hart explained.
Rachel Wall, spokesperson for CHSRA, said the best way for businesses to begin benefiting from the project is to attend the environmental review meetings occurring all over the county and throughout the state.
These meetings have been taking place over the past two years. The point is for the community to understand the environmental impact the train would have in their local areas. Wall explained smart business owners should attend so their voice is heard about where the train should be built.
Meetings are held across the county. For more information, visit the Authority’s website at cahighspeedrail.ca.gov.