Philadelphia failed to meet diverse-contracting goal in 2020

The city’s Office of Economic Opportunity reports it fell short of the 35% goal last year. Officials blamed the pandemic, among other challenges.

The exterior of City Hall in Philly

The exterior of City Hall in Philadelphia. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has released a report showing that less than a third of city contracts went to firms owned by women, people of color, and people with disabilities in 2020. The 30% rate of what is known as MWBE contracting fell below the administration’s 35% goal.

Aiisha Herring-Miller, senior director of the city’s Office of Economic Opportunity, said even though the administration did not reach its goal, officials are working on ways to do so.

“The city has not achieved 35% this past year, but there are a number of factors that may go into that. One of them being the pandemic,” she said. “So we have to acknowledge that there were a lot of unknowns and things had to be addressed in a pretty quick way. So there are certain things, for example, that we just could not wait on.”

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Herring-Miller said city officials are working to help departments connect with more diverse vendors.

In some cases, Herring-Miller said, a contract is put out without attention given to diversifying those who qualify for bidding “because there are a lot of subcontracting opportunities as well.”

Sometimes, she said, it’s as easy as making sure companies are qualified to bid as diverse contractors and are on the proper lists.  The city also has a program called Rebuild Ready that trains MWBE contractors to compete for city contracts.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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