Through a partnership with Sound Transit, the Washington State Department of Transportation is expanding its small business mentoring program.

The Mentor Protégé Program launched in July 2018 and, now with Sound Transit joining the effort, has been renamed the Capacity Building Mentorship Program.

The Capacity Building Mentorship Program is geared toward construction and transportation firms, and is designed to foster partnerships among large enterprises (mentors) and emerging small and diverse businesses (protégés). According to the WSDOT, the program provides opportunities for participants to improve their business practices, grow their firms and develop relationships with other companies.

“We’ve seen a positive response from the firms participating in the Capacity Building Mentorship Program, with more than 80 percent being satisfied or very satisfied with the program,” WSDOT secretary of transportation Roger Millar said in a statement. “Our success is due the willingness of the construction industry and minority business community to work together to grow our state’s small businesses. I’m excited to see that work continue with Sound Transit as a partner.”

In fall 2017, WSDOT hired THOR Companies, one of the largest minority-owned construction companies in the country, to develop, support and implement WSDOT’s Mentor Protégé Program. This program is part of WSDOT’s State Funded Contracts – Diversity Roadmap and one of the highlighted efforts of the Governor’s subcabinet on Business Diversity.