PORTLAND, OR-Figures just released by the Portland Development Commission show an increase in the number of construction and other outsourced-project contracts awarded to minority and women-owned businesses for fiscal year 2000-2001. Currently, there are 1,500 firms in Oregon that are certified as disadvantaged, minority, women-owned or emerging small businesses. Between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001, $54 million in PDC contracts were awarded, 18.82% or $10 million of those contracts for construction and personal services such as engineering and architecture went to such firms.

The percentage of contracts awarded during the fiscal year was almost double PDC’s designated annual goal of 10%. The percentage even surpasses last fiscal year’s 14.32% of all projects awarded to such contractors.

“The minority-owned, women-owned and emerging-small-business community is the largest growing business segment in the nation and is becoming more prominent in international business circles,” says PDC executive director Don Mazziotti. “We will continue to maximize their opportunities by using our resources to influence and sustain parity throughout the Portland contracting community.”

Many of the construction projects awarded to these firms included both multifamily housing complexes and mixed-use projects with retail components, according to a PDC spokesperson. At the direction of Mayor Vera Katz, the city stepped up the pace of hiring minority and women-owned businesses in 1997 when it adopted a formalized set of programs in direct response to a disparity study conducted in 1996.

One of those programs, the Workforce Training and Hiring Program, has boosted apprenticeship hours worked by minorities to 46,899 for the 2000-2001 fiscal year, a 51% increase from the 31,032 hours worked the previous fiscal year.

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