Magazine article International Trade Forum

Women and Minority Procurement: Atlanta's Approach

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Women and Minority Procurement: Atlanta's Approach

Article excerpt

Nearly 40 years ago, the government of Atlanta adopted sweeping and bold economic development policies to stabilize the city's economy and expand business and job opportunities. Thenmayor Maynard Jackson, Jr., the first African American mayor of a major United States city, championed the Equal Economic Opportunity Programme, opening municipal procurement to the more than half of the business population previously locked out of city business due to discriminatory policies and practices based on race and gender. His leadership changed the economic fabric of the city for black people, other minorities and women.

Between 1974 and 1981, the proportion of contracts awarded by the city to women and minorities increased from a meagre 1% to an average of 24%, worth more than US$ 600 million. In those eight years, nine pieces of legislation designed to ensure minority and female business participation were adopted by the city council, including a law requiring 25% of projects to be filled by minority- and women-owned firms. This has led to, conservatively, US$ 2.5 billion in contracts awarded to women and minority businesses since 1974.

As greater Atlanta has grown to over 5 million people, it has become a model for American cities, states and federal agencies. Women and minorities have participated in the growth of business enterprises, increasing their wealth and expanding their capacity and experience, and the city's procurement policies laid the foundation for this success. The data speak for themselves.

The United States Census reports that Georgia has led the country in the number of women-owned businesses over the past 14 years. The number of women owned businesses in the state nearly doubled between 1997 and 2011, according to the recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Georgia now has an estimated 287,500 women owned businesses, ranking it sixth m the United States, up from tenth in 1997 when it had 145,576. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, Georgia ranks first in number, employment and sales for women owned firms.

Mayor Jackson set the stage for hundreds of minority and female entrepreneurs to participate in thousands of business transactions, to employ thousands of people, to grow their businesses and to contribute to the economic health of the city, state and nation. …

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