Persistance and data have sparked a change in how the Governor’s office awards state contracts, as this story in the Boston Globe notes.
In January, BECMA, the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, urged changes in how state contracts are awarded. They made a second push in September, following a report by WGBH on how contracts with out-of-state minority-owned businesses are used to prop up state goals for diversity in contracting. Additionally, an earlier report found that the inflation-adjusted value of state spending with minority-owned businesses had dropped by about 24% over the past two decades. And the pandemic has made economic pressure even more fierce.
In response, Governor Baker’s administration and finance office has made changes to increase opportunities for businesses owned by people of color, by filing a bill to make the state’s supplier diversity office into its own agency, and to use the “Massport Model” in contracting, where diversity of a potential contractor can be counted as a plus in evaluating a bid.
The Globe notes that “the pace of action — quick by state government standards — underscores BECMA’s rising prominence at the State House. And it highlights the increasing urgency among government leaders to use the leverage they have to address persistent racial inequities in the state’s economy.”
Persistence, data, and pushing for specific policy changes to achieve structural change are key to winning a public bank as well. Right now we’re drafting legislation that will be flexible yet comprehensive enough to allow a public bank to meet challenges posed by COVID-19, especially the threat it poses to continued growth of small businesses and vibrant Main Streets, as well as providing a foundation for strong local economies in a better “new normal.” We are eager to talk to small business owners, municipal officers, and community bankers across the state about their needs and goals. We envision a bank Advisory Board that can work with communities in ongoing dialogue to ensure the bank is responsive to changing economic needs. And as we do this work, we’re taking BECMA’s persistence as a model and inspiration.