A report submitted to the Cook County Board of Commissioners highlights continued progress in the number of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) doing business with Cook County.
Cook County awarded $86 million in contracts in 2015 to M/WBE businesses for goods and services, construction and professional services. This represents a $20 million increase since the County began tracking figures under a directive by President Preckwinkle. In the last fiscal year alone, M/WBE participation rose to 29% of County contracts awarded as detailed in the report. This represents an increase of approximately 4 percentage points from the prior year, while actual payments to these vendors increased by 6 percentage points to 31% year-over-year.
“Minority- and women-owned businesses have historically been overlooked and underrepresented when it comes to government contracts being awarded,” Preckwinkle said. “I am proud of our efforts to lower the barriers for minority- and women-owned businesses. We have made great progress but must continue striving to make Cook County a better business partner for all.”
The fourth annual Cook County Business Diversity Report allows residents and businesses to see the goals set by the County and includes actual payments as well as the number of contracts and contract dollars awarded. The report serves as a benchmarking tool in assessing minority- and women-owned business participation and identifies areas for improvement.
Prior to President Preckwinkle taking office in December 2010, Cook County lacked an effective system to collect data, track progress or identify areas in need of improvement. This shortcoming made it impossible to properly evaluate the County’s work with M/WBE businesses and was one of many areas President Preckwinkle targeted for technology investments in recent years.
“This upward trend is encouraging and a testament to the hard work of our Contract Compliance Department,” Preckwinkle added. “By providing businesses tools, increasing community outreach and better tracking data, we are fostering greater inclusion of local M/WBEs in our County projects.”