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Equity in Business Opportunity (EBO) Proposal

Equity in Business Opportunity (EBO)

Approximately 1% of city contracts go to Women & Minority Business Enterprises (WMBE’s) despite minorities making up approximately 60% of the city population and women making up more than 50%.

WMBEs face numerous roadblocks when seeking loans, applying for WMBE certification, and bidding on contracts. My three-point plan highlights the importance of having strong relationships with WMBEs and removing the unfair blockages to their entry into the market. With unemployment rates higher than 20% in some of our neighborhoods, we must do a better job of creating equity in business opportunity. I  believe that while the City’s 10% goal should be a baseline, WMBE participation should realistically be 20%, 30%, 40%, or more to reflect true equity. From the corner office to the corner store, I will level the playing field to give every business person and worker the opportunity to prosper.

  1. Expand the Pool of WMBEs

    • Create a revolving fund.  Work with HUD to reform the PEDP loan-granting process so that women and minority-owned businesses have access to a revolving fund of short-term loans that allow them to complete the contract. Loans will be based on the contracts granted rather than the contractor’s credit.
    • Identify all sources of potential capital. Conduct a comprehensive of scan of federal, state, and alternative city loan programs to finance business start-ups, working capital for existing businesses, and business expansion.
    • Streamline the certification process. If a local Rhode Island based business is certified by the federal or state government as a women-owned, minority-owned, disadvantaged, or veteran-owned business, the city will automatically recognize that business in the similar category.

 

  1. Prioritize Relationship between City and WMBEs

    • Target viable Providence businesses. Through the development of a comprehensive database of WMBEs, city bids will be promoted to the local firms based on industry classification or product category. Offer small opportunities to WMBE firms to “test” price, quality, and reliability, and develop procedures to scale up smaller firms to meet larger procurement needs of the City.
    • Design capacity building and business supports. Create a system of supports that align with the challenges that small minority and women owned businesses face that limit their ability to successfully secure contracts from the city, including accounting, licensing, bonding, volume contracts, and technical expertise.
    • Understand the Providence business landscape. Conduct a review of Providence’s and Rhode Island’s business ecosystem in order to identify particular strengths found locally to serve the needs of Providence city spending and product categories. Create partnerships with the Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development Center, the Black Contractors Association of RI, the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians, the Center for Women & Enterprise, the Rhode Island Black Business Association, the Latino Contractors Association, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, and the NAACP Providence Branch to develop a standard curriculum and presentation about how WMBEs can partner with the city for city contracts.

 

  1. Improve Administration and Oversight of WMBE Procurement

    • Ensure cabinet-level oversight of WMBE procurement. Empower a cabinet-level administrator to ensure that the City’s purchasing department is meeting and exceeding its 10% WMBE goal.  Ensure that general contractors fulfill all responsibilities to hire WMBEs as subcontractors.
    • Train City Employees on Importance of WMBEs.  Develop training programs for city department procurement managers to share importance of WMBE contracting. Allow multi-business group bids for larger contracts, or subdivide large contracts to allow contracting opportunities for small WMBEs businesses.
    • Ensure rapid vendor payments. Create a system that processes vendor payments within 30 days of delivery. This should be done for all city contracts, but is particularly important for small minority- and women-owned businesses.
    • Monitor and track progress. Develop protocols to track and report WMBE contracting. Conduct a thorough analysis of the city’s annual procurement spending, broken down by industry category and level of spending, and provide that information publicly.
    • Utilize Online Communications. Expand on the Open Data Portal to highlight procurement opportunities for local WMBEs. Place city bid contracts online for a duration of no less than 60 days.

Click here to read the press release for Jorge’s Equity in Business Opportunity proposal.

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