Outreach to Minority Businesses Designed to Increase Participation

February 8, 2002
Last February, the Montgomery County Board of Education passed a resolution asking for recommendations from staff and others for expanded outreach to minority-, female-, and disabled-owned (MFD) businesses in order to increase their participation in school system contracts for goods, services, and construction. The result has been a wide range of strategies to increase awareness of contract opportunities and to provide information on how to submit successful bids to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

A meeting was held on February 8 at the Carver Educational Services Center to highlight these strategies. Among the participants were Board of Education President Reginald M. Felton, Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast, and members of the MCPS Minority Business Task Force.

“We know that there are many well-qualified minority vendors who are not fully aware of the business opportunities that exist with Montgomery County Public Schools,” said Board of Education President Reginald M. Felton. “It is important that this information be easily accessible and that the school system provide ways to familiarize vendors with the bid process.”

The formation of a Minority Business Task Force has played a key role in improving outreach to MFD businesses. Members include Maribel Torres Pinero, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, Arthur Davis, coordinator of the Montgomery Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Arnold Jolivet, executive director of the National Association of Minority Contractors.

Among the other initiatives to increase MFD business participation is a newly designed web site that provides information on how to do business with MCPS, an application for placement on a bidder’s list, a bid calendar, and information on vendor seminars that are held monthly by the MCPS Procurement Office.

In addition, a Guide to Successful Vendor Partnership has been widely distributed. The booklet includes a list of commodities purchased annually and information on how to submit bids. Distribution of bidding opportunities through community organizations and collaboration with the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on a minority business enterprise-contracting workshop are among the efforts to expand the number of potential bidders among MFD businesses.

In September 2001, the Board of Education’s goal for successful MFD participation was increased to 25 percent of the total dollar value of all contracts. Recent figures for successful MFD participation already show progress toward reaching this goal. Of the 12 major capital projects awarded from July through December 2001, five attained the 25 percent guideline, and seven attained the 14 percent guideline that was in effect before September 2001. Figures for goods and services contracts show an increase to 14 percent in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2002 from eight percent in the first quarter. In addition, 44 percent of MFD businesses that submitted bids for goods and services in the second quarter were awarded contracts.

For more information, see the link below.

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