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Proposal Filed to Expand Access to City Contracts for Minority and Women-owned Enterprises

The proposal would raise the written quote contract maximum for contracts with certified MWBEs.

Mayor Michelle Wu today 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.

“This proposal will allow us to use every dollar possible to build wealth in our communities, address our racial wealth gap, and make our city a place for everyone,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I look forward to working with the City Council and the Legislature to advance this.” 

The proposal is part of a larger initiative to direct City resources to local, diverse businesses that are vital to expanding wealth-building opportunities and supporting their capacity to compete for city contracts. 

In 2020, the City of Boston released a disparity study that showed that only 1.2% of the $2.1 billion City’s contracts for construction and professional goods and services went to Black and Latinx-owned businesses. In response to these results, the City of Boston now seeks to address these historical disparities and aid in establishing intergenerational wealth for Black and Latinx residents. Increasing access to city contracts is an important step to building wealth and closing the racial wealth gap.

"This is the type of forward-thinking, meaningful change that is needed to reduce the barriers to wealth-building opportunities for our small, local, diverse businesses," said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. "I am proud to serve in an administration that has made equitable procurement policy a top priority."

"It is imperative that we use all tools available to make City contracting more equitable and accessible to people of color,” said City Councilor Brian Worrell, Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Professional Licensure. “The time is now to break unacceptable gaps of access and staggeringly low numbers of Black and Brown residents winning City contracts."

The proposal seeks to amend Massachusetts General Law 30B, which was passed in 1990 and establishes procedures for the acquisition of supplies or services, the disposition of surplus supplies, and real property acquisitions and dispositions by local governmental bodies. 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. 

This home rule petition builds on Mayor Wu’s years of commitment to require equitable City contracting and close the racial wealth gap. In 2016, then-Councilor Wu and then-Councilor Ayanna Pressley presided over the City Council hearing that examined the City’s procurement process and efforts to support local businesses. In 2017, Mayor Wu and Congresswoman Pressley co-sponsored an ordinance that required the City to collect more data on contracting. Mayor Wu passed a groundbreaking ordinance that required the City of Boston to shift its food procurement practices to meet certain standards around racial equity, fair pay for workers, environmental sustainability, and nutrition.

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