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PORTLAND-Minority- and women-owned and emerging small businesses garnered $10 million of the $54 million in contracts awarded by the Portland Development Commission July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2001. This was nearly double PDC’s annual goal of 10%, and more than four full points higher than last year’s 14.32%.

“Part of PDC’s mission is to create quality job opportunities for all citizens,” says Don Mazziotti, PDC Executive Director. “It’s just as important to do that directly – through our contracting and work force training processes – as indirectly by stimulating new development.”

PDC attributes the growth in minority participation to an intensified outreach effort to train and attract such businesses for construction projects and “personal services” contracts such as engineering, architecture, writing and graphic design. There are 1,500 firms in Oregon certified as disadvantaged, minority or women business enterprises and/or as emerging small businesses.

PDC’s efforts to increase minority pariticpation in its projects stems from a 1996 “disparity study” funded by a consortium of local, regional and state agencies. The study found that minority and women business owners were struggling with discriminatory actions and attitudes in the regional construction and related trades.

Despite the successes, the PDC would like to see more participation by women-owned businesses in the construction trades, as they were represented in only 2% of PDC contracts, and more participation by minority-owned businesses in personal services, as they garnered only 3.6% of such contracts.

“Although we are exceeding our goals in most areas, we will not become complacent in our efforts,” notes Mazziotti. “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. We will continue to maximize their opportunities by using our resources to influence and sustain parity throughout the Portland contracting community.”

Future efforts may include identification of several annual “showcase” projects with higher minority-use targets of 15-25%; establishing an interagency web-based “contracting opportunities” home page; expanding partnering outreach activities to increase minority participation in all areas of contracting; and working with the city and Tri-Met to maximize minority hiring for upcoming projects in the Interstate Urban Renewal Area.

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