Since 2020, Councilwoman Lammis Vargas has worked on an ordinance supporting the participation of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) in city funded and …
Since 2020, Councilwoman Lammis Vargas has worked on an ordinance supporting the participation of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) in city funded and directed public construction programs and projects as well as in municipal purchases of goods and the procurement of services. The ordinance’s amendments finally passed the full council on July 25.
The ordinance was referred to the finance committee in Sept. 2020, with Vargas saying she worked hard on it from October to December. At the time, the ordinance did not go anywhere because there were concerns about how it would actually work and what it would mean to the city and staff members. In Vargas’s second term on the council, the ordinance came before the council again.
The policy looks to maximize opportunities for MBEs and WBEs through the following: participating in areas of city purchasing, the procurement of goods and services, construction projects or contracts funded in whole or in part by city funds; ensuring the use of MBEs and WBEs as subcontractors, suppliers to the prime contractor and/or the use of minority and women laborers should be considered in determining the lowest qualified bidder; and ensuring that no one should be excluded on the grounds of race, color, national origin or sex.
To qualify for the MBE/WBE certification, 51 percent of the small business should be owned by one or more socially or economically disadvantaged individuals, or have at least 51 percent of the business’s stock owned by one or more socially or economically disadvantaged individuals.
According to Director of Economic Development Franklin Paulino, the city is seeing a lot of small minority businesses coming into the city along the Cranston/Providence border. He added that based on the 2020 census data, the minority population in Wards 2 and 3 are now the majority.
Co-sponsors for the ordinance when it was introduced in 2020 included council members John Donegan, Aniece Germain and Ken Hopkins. Vargas thanked them, mentioning she was glad that in the next council session the ordinance was introduced, Donegan and Germain stayed on. She also recognized council members Robert Ferri and Jessica Marino for working with her.
The ordinance has changed over time. In March 2021, the ordinance was amended to exclude the need for a predicate study. Since the time when the ordinance was first introduced, the state conducted a disparity study which meant this language was no longer needed.
Additionally, the ordinance originally called for an advisory commission to make sure this is not just another ordinance that’s being passed but is enforced. Vargas will be looking to ensure that the city is complying with the ordinance.
Vargas said she has started seeing a lot of movement and conversations regarding contracts and purchasing across states and counties and the need for representation; this has been a topic of discussion over the past few years within the state and is long overdue.
“It’s a win-win for all,” said Vargas.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here