This morning the council took a step towards spending tax payer dollars in a more socially reponsible and just manner.
Following up on recommendations from the Disparity Study conducted last year, the Council has agreed to put in place our first-ever goal for the percentage of minority- and woman–owned businesses city government will purchase products and services from. The goal is 25%. This means that each department will review, track and report on its purchasing practices and that Civil Rights staff will assist them in finding certified minority or woman owned companies available to provide the products and services they need. There are a wide variety of private businesses we use for goods and services including food and beverages, legal services, equipment repair, printing services and more. Also, for the first time, goals will be placed on grant recipients who may be nonprofit service providers to also purchase goods and services from minority and woman owned businesses.
According to the staff report, in 2010 some $95 million was spend to purchase such goods and services and could have been opened up to all small businesses. At a 25% inclusion goal, almost $24 million could have gone to woman- and minority owned businesses. Unfortunately, in 2010 we weren't even keeping track of this. In 2012 we will be.
I am a longtime supporter of this initiative and see it as an important step towards spending our public dollars in a more socially responsible way and being a leader in addressing the racial and gender inequities that we know exist in our city and region.