Chicago targets minority-owned businesses with Web site

Merging the aims of public policy with the mechanisms of information technology, Chicago's Department of Purchases, Contracts and Supplies has embraced the Internet for the city's Minority- and Woman-owned Business Procurement Program.

Merging the aims of public policy with the mechanisms of information technology,

Chicago's Department of Purchases, Contracts and Supplies has embraced the

Internet for the city's Minority- and Woman-owned Business Procurement Program.

Launched in 1990, the nationally renowned program enables the department

to award at least 25 percent of the dollar value of all city contracts to

minority-owned businesses, and 5 percent to woman-owned businesses. More

than 2,000 companies are certified to participate in the program.

Since it went live a little more than a year ago, the department's

World Wide Web site has evolved from a relatively simple billboard to a

robust information site that is carefully keyed to encouraging the city's

purchasing goals.

With sections devoted to explaining how the purchasing process works,

how to conform to bid/proposal procedures and how to become certified as

a minority- or woman-owned business, the site is a public information tool

and an educational forum for companies seeking contracting opportunities

with the city.

"We're using the Web site to ensure that minority-owned businesses and

woman-owned businesses aren't left out of the information flow," said David

Malone, the city's chief procurement officer. "It provides an easy way for

them to understand how bids are being awarded, and to find out the results

of the bid process."

The site also acts as a magnet for Chicago's Target Market Procurement

Program, which designates a number of city contracts each year that can

be bid on only by minority- or woman-owned businesses. The goal is for

10 percent of all contract dollars to be awarded through the Target Market

program annually.

"We see the Web site as a sort of marketing tool for the Target Market

program, as a way to direct minority- and woman-owned businesses toward

opportunities with the city of Chicago," Malone said.

Although the idea of using the Web to promote the city's procurement

policies seems straightforward, its practice has involved the Department

of Purchases in a full range of digital divide issues — from questions about

access to hopes for increased interactivity and e-commerce.

Reservations about the ability of smaller businesses to use the Web as a

tool for information gathering fail to take into account the Web site's

role as an additional, rather than primary, source of information, Malone

said.

A typical concern is the city's policy of publicly advertising contracts

with a dollar value greater than $10,000.

"We advertise those opportunities in the newspaper and will continue

to do so. But when we tell business owners that we also plan to put that

information on the Web, some of them wonder if they'll be left out if they

don't have Internet access," Malone said.

"They need to be reassured that we will continue to advertise in the

newspaper and participate in trade shows and do all the other things we

normally do to share information with the minority- and woman-owned business

population," Malone said.

On the other end of the Internet access spectrum, there are a number

of vendors that have expressed interest in doing business electronically.

Most, though, are happy for now to have the information the site provides

without the complexity of installing and maintaining an e-commerce infrastructure.

In the meantime, the site promotes the city's goal of creating a more

inclusive procurement process by helping business owners. It guides them

through filling out the certification application and explains the bid award

process so that business owners apply correctly.

"Right now, the primary interest of most companies is just in learning

how to do business with the city," Malone said. "The tangible benefit of

the site is that it guides people through that process. It makes them aware

of opportunities and explains the programs we've got in place to facilitate

their involvement. And as we move down the road toward more e-commerce,

their interaction with the site will ensure that they will know what we're

doing and how it will effect them well in advance." l

—Walsh is a freelance writer based in Peekskill, N.Y.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.