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New supplier diversity programs to foster equity in City contracting

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Economic Development

Mayor Kim Janey today announced several new supplier diversity initiatives to address equity in City contracting.

Through key investments into staffing and programmatic needs, the City of Boston is taking bold action to address the past and present effects of discrimination, disparities, obstacles and barriers in its procurement process that impact minority-owned (MBE) and women-owned (WBE) businesses.

These actions build on the City of Boston's commitments announced in February 2021 that followed the completion of a disparity study, including an Executive Order designed to support equitable procurement policies. The Executive Order recognizes the results of the Disparity Study and established annual city spending goals of 25% to women and minority-owned businesses, as well as establishment of a Supplier Diversity Plan to support procurement consistent with the City’s goals.

“These announcements make significant progress on how our City can intentionally build equity into opportunities for businesses who bid for City contracts,“ said Mayor Janey. “Today I am proud to launch a series of concrete actions we are taking to break down barriers to participation by minority- and women-owned businesses to address inequities in City contracting opportunities.” 

In FY2021, the City of Boston reallocated $2 million from the Boston Police Department overtime to the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development to support Supplier Diversity efforts. Today’s announcements include a number of critical resources to build staffing capacity and modernize procurement tracking in order to implement new initiatives that expand opportunities for minority- and woman-owned businesses. Program support for businesses includes technical assistance, streamlining the business certification process, access to capital, and connecting Boston’s businesses directly with opportunities for contracting.

Supplier Diversity Investments

In February 2021, the City of Boston made a commitment to develop a Supplier Diversity Program following the completion of the City’s Disparity Study. As part of the City’s $2 million Supplier Diversity investment, a new Supplier Diversity Team has now been created to lead this work. The team includes five full-time staff positions in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development’s Equity and Inclusion Unit. This new team will lead the City’s efforts to develop inclusive procurement practices, monitor City contracts, provide technical assistance to businesses, offer business certification, and connect minority and women-owned businesses to current and future contracting opportunities. Additionally, the City’s first Director of Strategic Procurement has been hired by the Administration & Finance Cabinet to support the City’s commitment to equitable procurement across all City departments.

In order to meet the City’s equitable procurement goals of 25% annual spending with minority and women-owned businesses, the City of Boston is making further investments that will streamline City procurement and certification processes to remove barriers to contracting opportunities. This includes modernizing internal tracking systems and fully automating the current business processes for MBE and WBE vendor certification.

Boston Contracting Opportunity Fund

This new $750,000 fund will support certified woman (WBE), minority (MBE), veteran-owned (VSBE), and small and local businesses (SLBE) within the City of Boston that wish to compete for City contracting opportunities. The fund, administered by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, will award grants of up to $15,000 to businesses that have specific capacity building needs in order to bid for City contracts. Capacity building was one of the needs identified by the Disparity Study in order to increase the availability of diverse businesses ready to compete for City contracts. The fund application period will run from Thursday, April 15 to Monday, May 17, 2021. Applicants can attend two live informational webinars to ask questions about eligibility and criteria for this fund. The webinars will be recorded and posted online at facebook.com/econdevBoston/videos. Please register to attend one of the live virtual sessions:

Pilot Contract for Minority and Women-Owned Participation Goals

The City will officially begin piloting the implementation of participation goals for minority and women-owned businesses in City contracts, with the Malcolm X Park Improvement Project as the first contract planned for that pilot program. Through this pilot, we aim to give a diverse array of businesses the opportunity to partake in the comprehensive renovations to come, such as upgrading the basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds and turf field, among many other improvements. The City’s FY22-26 Capital Plan will increase the project budget from $5.9 million to $9.4 million, a $3.5 million increase.

Pathways to City Contracting Virtual Opportunity Fair

The Supplier Diversity team will host a Pathways to City Contracting Opportunity Fair on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. At the virtual event businesses will meet one-on-one and in groups with City department representatives and find out about upcoming contracting opportunities that line up with their expertise. When attendees enter the virtual event they will be able to click on virtual “tables” and talk to City buyers directly. Local businesses are encouraged to attend to learn more about contracting with the City.  Please register to join us virtually on:

ABOUT THE MAYOR'S OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Economic Development Cabinet's mission is to make Boston an appealing and accessible place for working families, entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors to innovate, grow and thrive in a way that fosters inclusion, broadens opportunity, and shares prosperity, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all Bostonians and the experience for all visitors.