City of St. Petersburg Takes Steps to Improve M/WBE Program

According to the 260-page report, African Americans were the most underutilized by the City's Small Business program.

Source : Contractor News

January 6, 2023

Author : Patty Allen

In response to the findings of the City of St. Petersburg's Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) Disparity Study, the City's Procurement Department is solidifying efforts to ensure diversity and inclusion are ingrained in the City's procurement and supplier processes and culture moving forward. 

The M/WBE Disparity Study was initiated in 2018 and is a 5-year review of the City of St. Petersburg's contracting processes, specifically awarding contracts to M/WBE. It ensures that all community members who desire to do business with the City have equitable opportunities. A disparity analysis can enhance the City's contracting process, increase the number of bids, and reduce procurement expenses. 

The study confirmed a difference in the City's prime and subcontract awards over the study period (2014 to 2018).

According to the 260-page report, African Americans were the most underutilized by the City's Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program. 88% of the contracts in construction, professional services, and other products and services went to white men compared to 1.6% to black-owned enterprises.

"After nearly 31 years in operation, the SBE Program has been ineffective in achieving equitable participation for M/WBE prime contractors based on their availability in the City's market area," the research said.

Mason Tillman Associates, the firm conducting the study, recommended that the Florida city develop a race- and gender-sensitive program to address the discrepancy.

The following were included in the Procurement Department's presentation to the City Council's Committee of the Whole:

  1. The City has officially formed the Office of Supplier Diversity, and its first staff member, Latasha Binder, has been hired as the office's Manager. 
  2. The City has formed an Equity in Contracting advisory committee comprised of community leaders with a strong interest in business diversity.
  3. The City's legal staff will now develop an ordinance for consideration by City Council in early 2023. 

“Formalizing equitable business opportunities and policies demonstrates our intentional commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture,” stated Mayor Kenneth T. Welch.

Category : Minority Business Enterprises Minority Women Business Enterprises Women Business Enterprises Disparity Studies Local Government

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