New York – The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the expansion of the City Accelerator initiative on Inclusive Procurement, a retake on its fourth cohort, to 10 additional U.S. cities—Boston, Cleveland, Ohio, El Paso, Texas, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Pa., and South Bend, Ind. The 10 cities will work together over the next year to pursue a range of projects to find innovative, effective, locally-tailored strategies to leverage public purchasing power to develop firms owned by people of color. Local initiatives range from implementing aggressive outreach strategies, developing procurement portals and creating an ecosystem of support services for firms owned by people of color to increase their opportunities to gain city contracts.
"Many cities aspire to spend a greater proportion of their expenditures with small and minority-owned businesses, but the municipal procurement process is often a deterrent to achieving that," said Ed Skyler, Citi's Chief Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chair of the Citi Foundation. "The City Accelerator has already helped cities in all parts of the country identify new ways to enhance transparency, communication and awareness in the procurement process—making it easier for small and minority-owned businesses to participate—and we're excited to see the new approaches that come from these next 10 participating cities."
Now in its sixth cohort, its largest to date, the City Accelerator has brought together 22 municipalities to test new approaches that improve the lives of residents, especially people of color. Memphis purchased 20 percent from diverse businesses (MWBEs in the first two fiscal years of their mayor's term. Rochester is developing cultural congruence across its entrepreneurial ecosystem through racial equity and inclusion trainings for service providers who work with local businesses. Through performance-based contracting, Washington, D.C.'s Office of Public-Private Partnerships developed a pipeline of project that will deliver better infrastructure where residents need it most while creating safeguards that protect the interests of people of color and low-income residents who have often been disadvantaged when projects go wrong. El Paso has integrated all local small and minority business resources into a singular effort branded Accelerate EP and for the first time formalized relationships with organizations the serve its local businesses of color.
"Inclusive procurement is a strong element in closing racial income and wealth gaps", said Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht. "When cities leverage their buying power to support the very residents that have been kept out of wealth-building activities, they are contributing to the betterment of the entire community."
In addition to a $50,000 grant, each city will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Cities may consider local policy reform, supplier diversity engagement, improved contract compliance practices, utilization of tax incentives and economic development tools.
Technical assistance for the effort will be provided by Griffin & Strong, a law and public policy consulting firm specializing in disparity research and supplier diversity for government entities and private corporations.
To track the progress and work of these City Accelerator cities in the coming year, visit Governing Magazine, Citi's blog and follow #CityAccelerator on Twitter.
"From the time I entered office, equity has been at the forefront of my policy agenda. I look forward to working with Living Cities and the Citi Foundation, as well as partnering with other cities across the country, to implement strategies and systems that will assist our efforts to increase access to diverse vendors and build up opportunity for all businesses and residents in the City of Boston," said Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston.
"The City of Cleveland is committed to buying, hiring and procuring locally to help stimulate local economic growth," said Mayor Frank G. Jackson of Cleveland, Ohio. "Through these actions, we will help Clevelanders expand wealth creation for generations to come."
"As El Paso's economy continues to thrive, ensuring an open and inclusive process for business owners seeking to find, bid on, and successfully compete for city contracts is at the forefront," said El Paso, Texas Mayor Dee Margo. "The work we will conduct with the Citi Foundation, Living Cities, and Griffin & Strong will provide us with an opportunity to learn nationwide best practices, and create lasting relationships with other city governments for cross-sector partnerships."
"As the most diverse city in the U.S., the City of Houston uniquely understands its responsibility to promote equity. The City of Houston's City Accelerator goal is to expand the inclusiveness of the city's procurement practices in order to increase the participation of minority-owned businesses. We are very grateful for the opportunity to pursue this goal with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities as part of the City Accelerator initiative," said Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston.
"There is no single solution to increasing racial equity in a community, which is why we're working together with the private sector to place equity at the center of all our efforts to make Kansas City a better place for all our residents," said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo. "This includes everything from education to infrastructure, and thanks to our collaboration with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities as part of the City Accelerator, I'm pleased we will be able to launch a universal procurement system to ensure our minority- and women-owned businesses have broader access to equitable and inclusive opportunities that will help grow their businesses, as well as strengthen our local economy."
"For our city to succeed, we need more Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, and People of Color (BIPOC) owned businesses to start, stay, and grow in Minneapolis. Supporting BIPOC owned business startups through utilization isn't just about the success of a single business – it's also critical to building an inclusive economy and will improve the work our city undertakes. Our participation in the City Accelerator Cohort will help us implement diversity spend goals for city departments, and we look forward to working with Living Cities and Citi Foundation to make those goals reality," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
"As we seek to become the most equitable city in America, all Nashvillians must have an opportunity to participate in our shared growth and prosperity. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the racial disparities in employment, income, credit, and wealth creation through supporting the growth and development of minority and women-owned businesses," said Nashville Mayor David Briley. "We are very pleased to be invited to participate in the City Accelerator for Inclusive Procurement, and we look forward to seeing how this opportunity helps us change the trajectories of our minority and women's entrepreneurial communities, and our city as a whole."
"Philadelphia is experiencing great momentum and economic success right now, but we know this comes with the responsibility of building an economy that works for all our residents," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. "It is a great honor that Philadelphia has been selected to join the sixth City Accelerator cohort, and its focus on the adoption of equitable procurement strategies to promote economic equity aligns perfectly with many efforts being undertaken by our administration. We recently shared our vision for inclusive growth in Philadelphia, which includes targeted and intentional strategies aimed at expanding financial access and business support to increase diverse business inclusion. As part of our work to improve equitable economic outcomes, our plan also specifically highlighted the need to make City procurement processes and outcomes more equitable. We look forward to working with the Citi Foundation, Living Cities and Griffin & Strong to deliver on the vision, commitment and strategies we have laid out."
"Pittsburgh is thrilled to work with Citi Foundation and Living Cities as part of the City Accelerator program, which will build on our outreach efforts to small businesses and communities of color, and our new Office of Equity," said Pittsburgh, Pa. Mayor William Peduto.
"Inclusive procurement is a key component of inclusive economic growth. This grant will join ongoing efforts like the West Side Small Business Resource Center and the City's current MWBE Disparity Study. These actions come from the realization that it takes intentional practices to get inclusive outcomes," said Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.
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The Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 18 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.
Citi Foundation: Elizabeth Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-559-2477
Living Cities: Carmen Smith, email@example.com, 646-442-2230