Nearly 100 vendors and suppliers turned out Wednesday to hear about HISD’s latest efforts to build on the success of its program for minority and women-owned business enterprises. HISD will be implementing changes that will hold firms more accountable in meeting district goals.
Starting July 1, the district plans to roll out new paperwork on all its bids, incorporating a new scoring system for vendors and suppliers to meet HISD’s M/WBE participation goals. The goals are set at 20 percent for construction and the purchasing of goods and non-professional services and 25 percent for professional services.
The goal is to further strengthen the district’s M/WBE program and encourage companies to do business with M/WBE partners.
“We serve a diverse community, and that community is getting more diverse every day,” said Bernard Willingham, the district’s Supplier Diversity Team Leader. Ultimately, HISD wants to make sure its vendors and suppliers reflect that diversity, he said.
The biggest change is a new scoring system that provides firms with multiple good-faith-effort options to meet M/WBE goals. Vendors will need to accumulate 100 points to be considered in compliance with HISD’s program.
Some of those points can be earned by committing to subcontracting with an M/WBE firm (45 to 65 points). Others can be earned by placing advertisements to find M/WBE subcontractors (20 points) or attending pre-bid conferences where they can network with potential M/WBE partners (10 points).
The new system also grants points to companies that serve as mentors to an M/WBE company (15 points) or have company policies that support M/WBE participation (10 points).
Rita Bonarrigo, president of Compu Pro Global, a small office supply company, said she wasn’t worried about being able to earn the 100 points. “There are a lot of avenues,” she said. “I think we can get there.”
With all the changes, Willingham urged anyone with questions or concerns to reach out to his office. The biggest hurdle in doing business with HISD is not turning in the required M/WBE paperwork with every bid.
“If you don’t submit the documentation, we’re not going to evaluate your bid,” he said.
In coming up with the changes, HISD worked with its Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee, whose volunteers members represent the Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, the East End Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, and the Women Contractors Association and the Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance.
Fredrick Daniels of SimpleTech Solutions, a small company that focuses on web content management and graphic design, said he looked forward to the new paperwork, especially the requirement that all subcontractors will need to be M/WBE certified.
“I think it really recognizes those organizations and firms that take the time to become certified,” he said.