Cincinnati awarded $9.5M in contracts to women- and minority-owned businesses through March

Results are 27 percent of all contracts

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati continues to grow the percentage of companies owned by minorities and women that are winning work with the city.

The city awarded more than 27 percent of contracts issued during the first three months of the year to companies owned by women and minorities, according to a new report released to Mayor John Cranley and Cincinnati City Council members Wednesday.

That amounts to more than $9.5 million worth of contracts out of the more than $35 million in work awarded between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year, according to the report.

“We are realizing success, and the more opportunities we create, the greater impact we can achieve,” Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black wrote in a For Your Information memo. “This success is not possible without the continued steadfast support and leadership provided by the Mayor and City Council.”

During Cranley’s run for mayor in 2013, he pledged to boost the city’s contracting with black-owned businesses to 15 percent within four years.

The city surpassed that goal in 2016.

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The contracting changes have been the result of a years-long effort to change the way the city does business.

Cincinnati City Council voted in 2013 to commission a disparity study to provide a legal basis for changing its contracting practices so that the city could consider a business owner’s race and gender when awarding contracts.

For a number of years, the city had a contracting policy that was race- and gender-neutral, and critics argued that approach resulted in unfair spending results.

Cincinnati City Council adopted the new approach in late 2015. Last year was the first full year of the new policies.

The latest report is the first time the city’s Department of Economic Inclusion has released quarterly results for the program. 

The report also included how much the city spent with women- and minority-owned businesses between Jan. 1 and March 31.

Those figures showed the city spent nearly $2.2 million with minority-owned businesses, close to $400,000 with businesses owned by minority women and more than $760,000 with businesses owned by white women.

The larger numbers reflect contracts awarded, which can result in payments over many months or even years.

It’s difficult to say from these first quarter results whether the city is on track to meet or beat last year’s results, said Markiea Carter, director of the city’s Department of Economic Inclusion.

But the city continues to certify more businesses owned by women and minorities to be eligible for the program.

At the end of 2016, 200 businesses were certified as women- or minority-owned businesses with the city. That number had grown to 221 businesses by the end of March, she said.

“Awards are opportunities, and people are seeing the opportunities,” Carter said. “And I think that in turn is having a positive impact.”

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been writing about women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for nearly 20 years. To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

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