Culture, Collaboration & Capital: Leveraging Procurement for Economic Equity explores how the public sector, specifically local government, can promote equity through its procurement practices. Local governments spend an estimated $1.5 trillion on contracts for goods, services and construction annually, according to the report, and they are well-positioned to give opportunities to minority-owned businesses. Using their buying power, local governments can be a force for greater economic equity.
Economic equity in the procurement realm means engaging a new and more diverse set of vendors and contractors. The report makes a three-fold case for the benefit of doing so. First, it makes economic sense and creates stronger communities by growing the middle class and thereby the local tax base. Conversely, the authors argue, inequality adversely affects economic growth. Second, equitable procurement contributes to business growth, particularly for minority businesses. Government contracts can provide the kind of stable, predictable revenue that allows small and new businesses to grow and expand. That growth brings increased employment. More specifically, the growth of businesses owned by people of color can increase job opportunities for people of color. Finally, an expanded pool of vendors and contractors can bring local governments higher-quality and more competitive contracts.
Produced by Living Cities’ City Accelerator, the report includes spotlights on several cities that are leading the way with equitable procurement practices: Chicago, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Memphis and Los Angeles. It includes a discussion of the historical and policy context, practical advice on how to improve procurement policies and processes, and a discussion of outcome measurement, including how to select, collect and report on useful vendor data.