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Contracting Equity, Support of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

Contracting Equity, Support of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses


October 22, 2019



Tanisha Jumper, Media and Communications, tjumper@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5152
Maria Lee, Media and Communications, maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-2054


City of Tacoma Expands Efforts to Achieve Equity in Contracting
and Support Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

TACOMA, Wash. - As part of the City of Tacoma's ongoing work to advance broader strategic goals relating to equity and accessibility, as well as economic growth, it has expanded its efforts to achieve equity in contracting and support of minority and women-owned businesses. 

“While the City often states equity as a core value, actions like these demonstrate that we are translating that value into action and ensuring that opportunities exist for all Tacoma businesses,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards.

“It is incumbent upon the City to support the growth of small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned businesses who have been have been historically left out of City contracting opportunities,” said Deputy Mayor Conor McCarthy. “Making sure that we make equitable investments in our minority and women-owned business contracting community as we build our City is key to lifting up our entire community and building our workforce.”   

The City authorized an extensive, year-long disparity study completed in 2018 that analyzed procurement and contracting barriers for small, disadvantaged, minority and women-owned businesses in construction, architecture and engineering, services and goods. This study determined that there exists a statistically significant underutilization by the City of minority and women-owned businesses in these contract categories. 

A construction industry stakeholder committee convened by the City in 2018 - comprised of labor union leaders, private contractors, minority and women-owned businesses and residents from economically distressed communities - analyzed the use of local workforce agreements in the context of the findings and recommendations of the disparity study. Through a consensus process, the stakeholder group voted against adoption of a formal community workforce agreement or priority hire ordinance, but recommended expansion of support services offered to minority and women-owned businesses.

“Our goals today are ambitious, and we want to make sure that Tacoma grows in a more sustainable and equitable manner," said At-Large Council Member Lillian Hunter. “We know we can do better and we are working to do just that."

“I look forward to seeing lasting programmatic improvements that support the growth of small and minority-owned businesses, as well as our local economy, in a more sustainable and equitable manner," said District 3 Council Member Keith Blocker.
The first phase of the City's efforts, taking place now through December 2019, prepares the City to make meaningful change by implementing foundational improvements that include increased technical assistance, improved compliance tracking, an increase of its contractor and supplier pool, migration to state certification lists, and working more closely with labor organizations. This phase will also involve extensive communication and outreach. 

The next phase of the City's efforts, projected to take place from January 2020 – December 2020, will involve ongoing strategic planning with the City’s community partners and, ultimately, implementation of a range of programmatic improvements. From January 2021 – December 2023, the City anticipates analyzing its efforts to date and establishing baseline metrics for its programs, while also preparing for a new disparity study.    

Additional information and updates are available through Shakisha Ross in the City’s Community and Economic Development Department at shakisha.ross@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5075, or this website