WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The City of West Palm Beach has introduced its newest program designed to encourage more contract participation among minority- and womanowned businesses.
Frank Hayden, the city’s director of procurement, unveiled the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) certification program, and explained the benefits of the existing Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification program, during a recent outreach to small business owners event held at the Mandel Public Library Auditorium on Feb. 15.
Under the new M/WBE program, companies with a majority ownership held by a woman or minority will receive extra points in competitive bids for city contracts of specific types and sizes.
M/WBE program advantages include opportunities for work with prime contractors and large firms as a subcontractor; free marketing of the M/WBE company to other city vendors and at networking events; and contract bids – or “sheltered markets” – for M/WBE companies only.
Hayden also talked about other city programs that could potentially benefit the approximately 150 small business owners in attendance.
The city’s Living Wage program stipulates that contractors must pay their on-site labor at least $14/hour through Sept. 30 and at least $15/hour after Sept. 30, 2019. The Living Wage program enables contractors to better recruit skilled labor to their projects.
Hayden also outlined the city’s Local Workforce program that requires a portion of the on-site labor be residents, which was appealing to business owners who want to employ West Palm Beach citizens.
“The City of West Palm Beach values diversity and wants its projects to have personnel that represent the diversity of the city,” Hayden said. “We are working with community groups to ensure there are avenues for the inclusion and hiring of this workforce.”
Representatives from other city departments including Tina Penu from Capital Improvement and Jennifer Ferriol, program manager in the Housing and Community Development Department, gave the audience highlights of upcoming contract opportunities.
For example, Ferriol said funding will be in place for the construction of a new community site at 1600 N. Australian Avenue, and certified businesses will be needed to complete the project.
Other potentially beneficial news came from Mark Parks, chief financial officer, who described what he deemed the city’s return to a level of financial stability last experienced in 2008.
“The city’s property value in 2008 was $12.7 billion, and in 2020, we are projecting it will be back to $12.7 billion, signaling a full recovery from the housing bubble,”
Parks said. He also said the city is working on moving its vendors to an automated clearing house (ACH) payment system, to reduce payment timelines for small businesses.
The Procurement Department holds quarterly outreach events to keep its current and potential vendors abreast of news that affects their ability to do business with West Palm Beach. The events encourage collaboration, one-on-one communications and business partnerships among vendors. The next outreach is scheduled for April 18.
For more information visit wpb.org/procurement or call 561-822-2100.