Living Cities Expands Initiative With Memphis’ Business Diversity And Compliance

Living Cities Expands Initiative With Memphis’ Business Diversity And Compliance
Over the last five years, 22 cities have piloted innovative efforts that generate economic opportunities for low-income populations and help cities run effectively. Through the City Accelerator, an initiative of Living Cities in partnership with Governing and supported by the Citi Foundation, city teams have tested new approaches to improve city services, practices and policies. The goal of the City Accelerator is to help local governments unlock the entrepreneurial spirit within city hall to reimagine its daily work in a way that will get better results.
“We work hard every day at City Hall to be innovative, to do things better, and deliver the best possible services to our citizens,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “Our work with Living Cities is further proof that what we’re doing is working, and I’m excited to work with them to keep improving our processes because that’s what our citizens deserve.”
“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.”
Memphis was part of the five-city cohort on Inclusive Procurement for 18 months starting in 2017. City Accelerator is in Memphis today to launch a new City Accelerator cohort of 10 cities from around the country focused on inclusive procurement.
• Boston
• Cleveland
• El Paso
• Houston
• Kansas City
• Minneapolis
• Nashville
• Philadelphia
• Pittsburgh
• South Bend
This cohort will dedicate 12 months to test the initiatives’ recent learnings on Inclusive Procurement. They will receive intensive one-on-one technical assistance from Griffin & Strong, access to peer-learning opportunities and grant dollars to test new ideas on how to remove the barriers that diverse businesses face when doing business with municipal government.
“Our newest cohort members are here to learn from Memphis because the City Accelerator is not about speeding up city processes, it is about accelerating the adoption of proven approaches that local government can take to create inclusive economic opportunities,” said Ben Hecht, CEO of Living Cities.
City Accelerator chose the ‘Home of the Blues’ because the City is willing to change their own systems that will result in increased MWBEs bidding and successfully winning contracts.
“Memphis has assessed their competencies and sought to increase their knowledge and skills to test process changes, one of which led to paying vendors more promptly. Mayor Strickland and staff are taking risks and holding themselves and staff accountable for setting a participation goal and ensuring that enterprises owned by people of color are equitably represented as vendors to City,” said Rodney Strong, CEO of Griffin & Strong, P.C., a policy law firm that works in cities across the nation and the cohort lead for both City Accelerators on Inclusive Procurement.
The City has also acknowledged that making changes at scale that can affect the economic well-being of City requires partners internally and externally and they nurture strategic relationships that led to the 800 initiative.
These cities plan to take lessons from Memphis (and the other four cities in our initial Inclusive Procurement cohort) and adopt peer-tested practices, processes and policies that lead to equitable economic opportunities. When more cities practice equitable and inclusive contracting, more businesses owned by people of color will be able to create jobs and earn revenue that will lead to stronger, more vibrant cities.

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