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L.A. City Council Votes to Expand Access to Opportunity for Minority and Small Businesses via New Online Platform

The vote comes after three years of work led by the Los Angeles Business Council to launch a free, transparent and regional procurement system to benefit L.A.’s diverse small businesses

The Los Angeles City Council voted today to fund the replacement of the city’s antiquated procurement interface with a new, modern system that will expand opportunities for L.A.’s small, diverse, and disadvantaged businesses with public agencies and major corporations. The vote is the culmination of years of work spearheaded by the LABC to help small, minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses benefit from large contracting opportunities, including major sporting, entertainment and cultural events.

At a time when COVID-19’s impact has been particularly devastating to small and minority-owned businesses, a streamlined system that provides easy access to public and private procurement opportunities is seen as a powerful tool to spur economic recovery across L.A.

"This is a historic new approach by the public sector to partner with the private sector, making it easier and more efficient for small business to access new opportunities," said Mary Leslie, LABC President. "This platform simplifies the process, allowing the private sector to use local businesses for major projects, growing regional businesses and creating new jobs at home."

Today’s motion was authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian, who advocated for its passage from the ad hoc jobs committee to the full council.

"The LABC thanks Councilman Krekorian for his leadership on this issue and is thrilled to see the commitment from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, the Economic Workforce Development Department, the Information Technology Agency and the Mayor’s Office of Budget and Innovation, among others, to leveling the economic playing field—an issue at the forefront of all of our minds right now," added Leslie.

The vote awarded funding to drastically update the city’s current procurement system, expanding its reach to include both public and private contracting opportunities on a regional scale and making it easier for small businesses to benefit from major sports and entertainment events like the Super Bowl, World Cup and GRAMMYs that often award contracts to the same group of large companies.

The system is also customized to fit the needs of Los Angeles specifically while remaining flexible, able to adapt to a continually changing business landscape.

"Ensuring the City has inclusive contracting and procurement policies is critical to bringing opportunity to traditionally underserved communities," said Councilman Krekorian. "I commend the LABC for being such a staunch advocate for this initiative and am encouraged that at a time of such uncertainty for our city and nation that programs like this move us towards a more equitable future."

Inspired by the success of the CompeteFor Program created for the 2012 London Olympics, through which 75 percent of contracts were awarded to U.K.-based small and medium-sized businesses, the new platform will incorporate many of the best practices identified in the LABC Institutes’s feasibility study. The core components include simplifying the bidding process by consolidating multiple systems, eliminating bureaucratic barriers, and conducting targeted outreach to small businesses new to the bidding process.

In addition to identifying and adapting the system itself, the LABC Institute worked with USC to produce a study which mapped three tiers of investment-ready neighborhoods across Los Angeles County, overlaying job rich census tracts to identify areas with the greatest number of small business job opportunities.

"In a moment in which the nation needs to tackle structural racism in all its forms, this is a hopeful development. This platform, particularly when paired with our mapping study of underserved communities, is a powerful tool that can provide new and more equitable access to business opportunities and improve communication between major projects and service providers," said Manuel Pastor, Director of the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE).

"I know this update will go a long way in helping many of my member businesses find and act on contract opportunities," said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LA LISC). "This update is a simple way for businesses to connect with new partners and for buyers to access a diverse and competitive group of bids. It’s a win-win for L.A.’s business community overall."

The vote authorized the city’s Information Technology Agency to move forward with software licensing and funding for the platform.

About the Los Angeles Business Council

The Los Angeles Business Council is one of the most effective and influential advocacy and educational organizations in California. For over 70 years, the LABC has had a major impact on public policy by harnessing the power of business and government to promote environmental and economic sustainability in the Los Angeles region. To learn more, please visit www.labusinesscouncil.org.

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Malina Brown
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