Fund to Support Equity in City Contracting Relaunched
The Boston Contracting Opportunity Fund was launched in April 2021 to support diverse, local businesses working in construction building and design, professional and support services, and goods and supplies. The goal of the Fund is to increase the quantity and availability of Certified Businesses by granting monetary assistance to help entities better access City-contracted projects. The Contracting Opportunity Fund application is now available here.
“We must use every tool possible to ensure equity in City contracting and build wealth in our communities,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As Boston continues to grow and recover from this pandemic, the reopening of the Contracting Opportunity Fund will help support and expand opportunity for our minority-owned and women-owned small businesses participating in the bidding process.”
“Reopening the Contracting Opportunity Fund is an important step in the City’s effort to eliminate the existing barriers that our minority-owned and women-owned businesses face when contracting with the city,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “By prioritizing equity, this program will bridge the gap and assist our small business community in the bidding process.”
Applicants must show how funding will increase their capacity to bid on City contracts and commit to providing supporting documentation for grant expenditures. Applicants must be a Certified MBE (minority-owned business enterprise), WBE (woman-business enterprise), VOSB (veteran-owned small business enterprise), and/or SLBE (small local business enterprise) with the City of Boston’s Supplier Diversity Program, or must be eligible and apply for Certification before the Fund closes on May 20, 2022. Applicants must also be in good standing with the City of Boston. To learn more about business certifications visit here.
In spring 2021, the City’s Supplier Diversity Program provided grants of up to $15,000 for certified MBE, WBE, VOSBE, and SLBE Boston-based businesses to support capacity building activities. A total of $820,000 was awarded to 56 businesses, of which 71% were certified minority-owned businesses and 20% were women-owned businesses. As a result of the fund application process, a total of 39 businesses applied for certification as minority-owned (MBE) or woman-owned (WBE) businesses.
In March, Mayor Wu filed a home rule petition with the City Council that would expand access to City contracts for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). The proposal would raise the written quote contract maximum for contracts with certified MWBEs from $50,000 to the state Small Purchase threshold, which is currently $250,000. The written quote contract process allows the City to award contracts without a full Request For Proposal (RFP) process, making it significantly simpler and cheaper for businesses to apply. This change will dramatically lower barriers to access for MWBEs and allow the City to make a greater investment in these businesses. Once approved by the Boston City Council, the home rule petition must be passed by the Massachusetts Legislature and signed by the Governor in order to become law.
The renewal of this Fund builds on significant investments made by the City of Boston in supplier diversity and equitable procurement initiatives since February of 2021, when it established annual city spending goals of 25% to women and minority-owned businesses. Through key investments in staffing and programmatic needs, the City of Boston is implementing new initiatives that seek to address the past and present effects of discrimination, disparities, obstacles and barriers in its procurement process that impact minority-owned and women-owned businesses. To learn more visit here.