Thursday, February 27, 2003

CPS contracts with minority businesses growing

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati school district has doubled its contract expenditures with minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses since 2001, but several board members say the increase still isn't enough.

From July 2002 through Wednesday, about 15 percent of the district's supplier contract expenditures went to minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses, said Pamela Mullins, Cincinnati schools' manager of supplier diversity.

That's up from about 7 percent from when she was hired in 2001, she said.

"We're moving in the right direction," Mullins said.

The district implemented a supplier diversity program last year in anticipation of the $1 billion school construction project planned over the next decade.

Of about $61 million spent on supplier contracts for goods, services and maintenance this fiscal year, about $9.2 million - or 15 percent - is going to firms targeted as part of the district's supplier diversity program.

About $7.2 million of the contractor business went to small businesses.

Districts officials, who are ramping up the new program, expect more contracts to be given to minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses by the end of the school district's fiscal year, which ends in June.

So far, $2.2 million of the $61 million in contracts has gone to suppliers who identified themselves as black males.

About $16,000 went to black female suppliers.

White female suppliers received $637,000 in business from Cincinnati schools.

"I'm encouraged by the numbers because they are better than they were," said board member Catherine Ingram, who chairs the district's finance committee. "But they're still not where they should be."

District officials expect to spend about $90 million in goods, services and maintenance by the end of the fiscal year.

Officials expect participation by minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses to increase to as much as 25 percent, said treasurer Michael Geoghegan.

Board member Harriet Russell said members are hesitant to commit to targets before they get the results of a $250,000 disparity study, which the district commissioned to determine how many minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses are located here and could do business with CPS.

That report is expected to be released in April.


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