Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law today allowing the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to establish provisions to address the underuse of minority and women-owned businesses (MBE/WBE) with respect to construction and procurement contracts. The bill was a high priority to Cook County Board President Preckwinkle’s administration and she hand-delivered it to the Governor in May.
“This new law will help ensure that minority and women-owned businesses have an equal opportunity for projects that create jobs and support communities,” Governor Quinn said. “It is vital that our communities are served by a skilled and responsible workforce that fairly represents them.”
“This new legislation brings the Forest Preserve District in line with Cook County, the City of Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and other local governments,” said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “I believe that it will significantly benefit the residents of our County by increasing the pool of qualified minority and women owned businesses that will have the opportunity to be selected for the substantial number of contracts awarded by the District each year.”
“Moving forward, the Forest Preserve District will be able to use MBE/WBE status as one factor in awarding bids for purchasing and construction contracts; however, it is important to note that this will not negate our competitive bidding responsibilities,” said Preckwinkle. “I commend our State Senate, House of Representatives and Governor for recognizing the importance of providing this much-needed tool for the economic health of our County.”
“We are excited about these changes and look forward to adopting new procedures, consistent with state and federal law, as expeditiously as possible,” said District Superintendent Arnold Randall. “To that end, we plan to draw upon the expertise of consultants and sister agencies such as Cook County to ensure that we have an effective, streamlined and transparent process for selecting contractors. We recognize our duty to taxpayers, and this drives our decision-making on a daily basis.”
Governor Quinn signed the legislation during the 41st Annual Conference of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund, which focused today on how to boost economic growth by improving access to government contracts for minority and women-owned businesses. Senate Bill 2946, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Chicago), takes effect immediately.