To fulfill Providence’s goal of having 10% participation in city contracts by Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBEs), Democratic Mayoral Candidate Jorge Elorza announced his plan to increase the percentage of women and minority business enterprises that do business with the city.
Maria Takuma, who owns Harmony Design and Construction said the following of Elorza’s proposal, «As a woman and a minority business-owner, I’m thankful to Jorge for bringing attention to this incredibly important issue and making it a priority in his economic development plan. We need leaders that recognize that our economy won’t prosper unless our government commits itself to equity and views our diversity as a strength.»
The proposal includes provisions that will expand the number of WMBEs and eliminate the barriers that these companies face. Some of these barriers include limited access to loans and lines of credit, difficulty attaining WMBE certification, and lack of ability to submit competitive bids for contracts. Jorge’s plan is a three-part solution to these problems. He will expand the pool of WMBE’s, proactively promote the participation of WMBE’s, and improve the administration and oversight of WMBE procurement.
He begins his proposal by calling for the creation of a revolving fund that will give minority and women-owned business access to the capital they need to make payroll. Elorza continues by calling for the application process to be streamlined so that Providence businesses certified by the federal government as minority or women-owned will automatically receive the same certification from the City.
He also stressed that an Elorza administration would prioritize the development of a comprehensive database of WMBE’s and create partnerships with organizations such as the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians, the Center for Women & Enterprise, the Rhode Island Black Business Association, the Latino Contractors Association, and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to develop a standard curriculum and presentation to guide WMBE’s seeking to do work for the city.
Finally, in order to improve oversight of WMBE procurement, Elorza proposed empowering a “cabinet-level administrator” with the authority to ensure that, at minimum, the 10% goal is being met. Further, Elorza said he would develop training programs for city department procurement managers to share the importance of WMBE contracting, create a system that processes vendor payments within 30 days of delivery, conduct a thorough, public analysis of the