Portland Development Commission Touts Diversity Contracting Numbers
The Portland Development Commission has been able to exceed 35% diversity in contracting in a city that is reported to be the whitest in the United States.
Bold adoption of aggressive requirements followed by structural changes and internal oversight made the difference.
This is a national model for increasing workforce diversity.
(PORTLAND, OR), — In tough economic times and in a city with a small minority population the PDC, Portland’s urban renewal and economic development agency, has achieved outstanding results.
PDC has, in each of the last two years, exceeded heightened goals for utilization of minority, women-owned and emerging small businesses (M/W/ESB) by at least 15 percent annually, achieving more than 35 percent of the dollars committed to state-certified firms.
For 2008-09, PDC spent $94 million on construction projects. $35 million of that went to M/W/ESB firms. Another $36 million is committed to additional PDC supervised projects for a total of more than $70 million to M/W/ESB firms.
Apprentices worked nearly 250,000 of the total hours in the past fiscal year – or three percent above the 20% PDC goal for apprentices.
“For PDC to be willing to take this on, to commit to making a difference here, says that part of economic development is economic development for everybody. That’s leadership”, says Connie Ashbrook, founder of Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.
Three years ago the PDC took bold steps by revising the decade-old policies governing business and workforce equity and adopting significant changes, which included:
The adoption of the PDC Construction Wage Policy
Revision of the PDC Business and Workforce Equity Policies
Community outreach included:
Convening a community-based Workforce Diversity Advisory Committee, resulting in new workforce diversity goals for construction projects and new contractor requirements.
Closer working relationships with the National Association of Minority Contractors-Oregon, the minority chambers of commerce and organizations that build contractor capacity.
A renewed partnership with organized labor that changed the state prevailing wage statutes on public-private partnerships.
Supporting pre-apprenticeship programs.
The PDC is not resting on its past accomplishments – for example, next up will be the adoption of a Prompt Payment Requirement to make it easier for small contractors to get paid promptly for completed work.