The City of St. Louis, MO has joined the City Innovation Ecosystems (CIE) program with hopes of making public contracting more accessible for small and minority-led businesses. The CIE program is an initiative of the National League of Cities (NLC), which seeks to help cities adopt policies, programs, and practices to give underrepresented entrepreneurs more opportunities for economic advancement.
“Leaders of America’s cities, towns and villages recognize that racial and gender equity are key ingredients to economic growth in communities,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of NLC. “We look forward to working with new members of the City Innovation Ecosystems program to bring their commitments to fruition and create economies in which everyone wins.”
The St Louis Development Corporation (SLDC), and the city have selected an area of focus around inclusive public procurement and have pledged to take action to make public contracting more accessible for businesses owned by women and people of color.
Technical assistance will be provided by the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL). GPL has plans to:
- survey diverse vendors to understand the barriers they face when bidding on contracting opportunities;
- right-size contracts into smaller opportunities that may be more accessible for small firms; and
- pilot new methods of market research and targeted outreach to notify more small, local, and diverse businesses of contracting opportunities.
“Expanding opportunity through public contracting is essential to improve equity in our city,” said Neal Richardson, chair of the SLDC. “St Louis through SLDC is proud to join the CIE programme to reduce barriers and make public contracting more accessible for small- and minority-led businesses.”