BATON ROUGE, La. — April 28, 2021 — Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s ordinance establishing the Division of Supplier Diversity and contracting goals for Socially & Economically Disadvantaged Businesses (SEDBs) won unanimous approval from the Metro Council Wednesday evening. The ordinance aims to create a level and more inclusive playing field for firms owned by minorities, women, & veterans and small businesses who bid on City-Parish contracts. It will also expand the pool of eligible firms, ultimately benefiting East Baton Rouge Parish taxpayers through increased competition and lower costs.
“I am elated to see this ordinance passed unanimously by the Metro Council; this will help small, locally owned disadvantaged business create jobs, expand opportunities and build wealth in their communities,” said Mayor Broome. “This is a significant stride in our push for equitable practices within our City-Parish government, and a monumental win for our community. Additionally, this effort will help increase competition, drive down costs, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars.”
In 2019, Keen Independent Research released the results of the City-Parish Disparity Study, which confirmed firms owned by minorities, women, & veterans and small businesses are underutilized in City-Parish contracts.
Data analyzed from 2013-2017 shows local firms owned by minorities, women, and veterans had the capability to participate in 21 percent of the public spending, yet only 5 percent was awarded to these firms.
Mayor Broome’s goal is to have at least 25 percent of the overall eligible annual City-Parish contract dollars be awarded to firms owned by minorities, women, veterans and small businesses.
The Division of Supplier Diversity will be tasked with closing the disparity gap and establishing participation goals by contract type. It will have oversight of certification eligibility, contact compliance and business outreach, training & capacity building for local SEDBs.
Progress has been made since the initial Keen report was published, with approximately 10 percent of new City-Parish awards going to SEDBs. This was accomplished through small businesses outreach, breaking up large contracts into smaller scopes, and removing barriers in the bidding process.
Certification as a local disadvantaged business is open to business owners regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender if they demonstrate social and economic disadvantages. Veterans, especially service-disabled veterans, are encouraged to apply for program certification.