On Thursday, November 18, 2021, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved a Resolution to adopt changes to the Purchasing Policies of The City of Frederick. Included in these changes is the establishment of a goals-based Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program and a Small Business Reserve program.
The MWBE program, managed by the City’s Equity Program Administrator, in partnership with the Department of Budget and Purchasing, will support the City’s desire to strengthen its policies related to minority and women-owned business participation in City procurement. A set of annual aspirational goals for MWBE participation in City contracts will serve as the benchmark against which to measure the overall effectiveness of the MWBE Program in increasing MWBE participation in City procurement.
"This policy, and the work to get here, is the result of the dedication and persistence of many," shared Mayor Michael O'Connor. "This is the beginning, not the end of the City's commitment to continue to evaluate what we have done, to make adjustments where necessary, and to ensure that the City, in all that it does, works for everyone in our community with equal opportunity."
To work towards achieving these goals, contract-by-contract goals will be set for larger construction projects, and eventually expanded to include more industries. These goal-setting measures, combined with oversight of prime contractors and City activity, intend to help historically disadvantaged businesses participate in City procurement.
The Small Business Reserve program is intended to increase opportunities for small businesses to perform as prime contractors on City projects, growing capacity and gaining valuable experience. This program sets aside procurement contracts in construction valued less than $ 250,000 and procurement contracts in professional services or other services valued more than $10,000 for bid and award only to certified Small Business Enterprises.
Comprehensive outreach to minority and women-owned, and small, businesses available to do business with the City is another important pillar of the new program. The City plans to support businesses through the use of notifications on upcoming procurement opportunities, providing resources that support small businesses and MWBEs in becoming certified, and helping businesses register with the City as a vendor.
“This is a monumental step for our city,” shared Alderman Derek Shackelford, who serves as the Aldermanic liaison to the City’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Panel. “I’m excited tonight that this moves our city forward.”
The approval of this program represents the culmination of a multi-year disparity study, conducted through an agreement with Griffin and Strong, P.C., which began in February 2020. The purpose of the study was to determine whether a statistically significant disparity exists between the percentage of available, qualified minority and women-owned companies that do business in the relevant market in which the City does business and the percentage of dollars spent with such firms by the City. To move from encouraging to requiring participation, this disparity study was necessary to meet legal requirements set forth by the courts.
The final report can be found on the City’s website.
The City of Frederick encourages all eligible businesses to register with the City to receive information about upcoming procurement opportunities. Businesses can learn more about the registration process on the City’s Purchasing website.