Mayoral candidate John Cranley announces new plan to increase spending with minority businesses

CINCINNATI -- Mayoral candidate John Cranley on Monday announced a new strategy to boost the amount of work that goes to the area's minority- and women-owned companies during major development projects.

Cranley said if he's elected mayor, he will require agencies such as the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to agree to award a specified amount of contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women.

To receive city money, 3CDC, the port authority and other developers would have to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, similar to the MOU that casino developers signed at the urging of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Cranley said.

"We're talking about inclusion and having an expanding African-American middle class and Hispanic middle class," he said. "I think these organizations have decent track records. The city has a horrible track record. But we all need to be doing better than we're doing."

Cranley was joined at the news conference by state Rep. Alicia Reece, who is president of the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus, former Mayor Dwight Tillery, and former council members Minette Cooper and Laketa Cole.

According to Cranley’s office, the plan would:

  • Require city funding partners, like 3CDC, the Port Authority, and other organizations that receive city subsidies for development projects to sign a Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Diversity and Inclusion (MOU) as a condition of receiving city funding.
  • Ensure that the City of Cincinnati and the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus partner together to improve minority inclusion in contracting, vending, and hiring in Cincinnati.

"This is how do we move from lip service to action," Reece said. "We want to make sure African-American and women-owned businesses are not left behind."

Cranley and Reece noted that more than 37 percent of the construction contracts awarded for the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati – or nearly $150 million worth – went to businesses owned by minorities and women.

Cranley also stressed that, if elected, he will push for faster completion of a so-called Croson study, which is needed before the city could award any contracts using gender or race as part of decision-making process.

Cincinnati's business leaders have been pushing for major changes in the way the city awards contracts, as WCPO reported in July. A Cincinnati City Council majority in August directed Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney to launch such a study.

Cranley called that move political and said his administration would seek to have such a study completed much more quickly than the city's current timeline.

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