Building on her efforts to encourage competition and promote transparency, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took part in a 2015 Vendor Fair on Wednesday. The annual event is part of a collaborative effort between Cook County and the City of Chicago aimed at providing useful information on how to do business with local governments.
The Vendor Fair provided a chance for outside vendors to learn about contracting opportunities with Cook County and the City of Chicago, as well as State, Federal and non-profit assist agencies. More than 1,000 participants preregistered for the opportunity to network with procurement officials, other business owners and numerous subject matter experts.
“Cook County wants businesses of all sizes to have an opportunity to grow and create jobs,” Preckwinkle said. “From workshops providing bidders with information regarding goods and services generally requested by Cook County to helpful tips for those seeking to participate in the County’s procurement process, we’re working hard to educate stakeholders on contracting opportunities.”
Under President Preckwinkle, the County has completely revamped its public procurement process to increase competitive bidding on County business while also increasing efficiency. Preckwinkle spearheaded changes to the County’s Procurement Code to improve enforcement of its M/WBE program and added reinforcement measures to the code, creating tools to support M/WBE firms and assist in promoting greater inclusion of these firms in a more transparent procurement process.
Additionally, a reciprocal certification initiative with the City of Chicago allows small minority- and women-owned businesses to be certified by just one government with the goal of cutting red tape to streamline the process.
“With a well-organized and effective procurement department we are now better equipped to work collaboratively with the City of Chicago and other agencies,” Preckwinkle said. “The City of Chicago and Cook County shared a building for decades but rarely shared ideas and resources. We are now working together to create efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars.”