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Philadelphia’s utilization of minority, women and disabled business enterprises in city contracts dropped from 22.8 percent in fiscal year 2006 to 17.6 percent in fiscal 2009, an annual study released Wednesday shows.

The trend is not promising, said Econsult Corp. which has conducted the study the past four years. But the firm believes organizational changes made by Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration could help turn it around.

“On a positive note, the Nutter administration has instituted a number of significant organizational shifts — moving the Office of Economic Opportunity from the Finance Department to the Commerce Department, hiring a new OEO executive director, getting out of the certification business to redeploy more resources towards outreach, monitoring, and capacity-building — that we believe will pay dividends in improving the city’s utilization of M/W/DSBEs and in strengthening the overall capacity of M/W/DSBEs,” Econsult noted in the report.

Minority, women and disabled business participation in city contracts declined in the four most recent fiscal years: from 22.8 percent in FY2006 to 20.8 percent in FY2007 to 18.1 percent in FY2008 to 17.6 percent in FY2009. Declines in participation were particularly high in contracts for public works, which dropped from 15.1 percent in FY2008 to 12.1 percent in FY2009, and supplies, services, and equipment, which dropped from 9.2 percent in FY2008 to 6.9 percent in FY2009.

The city’s 3rd Quarter Fiscal Year 2010 Participation Report was also released Wednesday, which reflected a $15 million (8 percent) increase in the value of contracts awarded to minorities and women in the first three quarters of fiscal 2010 over 2009. Collectively, those businesses received more than $184 million (19.2 percent) of the $961 million in for-profit city, quasi-government and federally funded contracts awarded through the third quarter of FY2010.

The city has adopted a 25 participation goal for the firms in FY2011, including 10 percent for African American, 3 percent for Hispanic/Latino American, 6 percent for Asian American, 0.5 percent for Native American and 5 percent for white females.

Read more at the Philadelphia Business Journal

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