Trustees to vote on contracts with minority-owned businesses

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

The Board of Trustees will vote on a proposal Thursday that would increase its goals for contracting businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities.

If approved, the plan would align the University’s policies to meet the state’s updates to the Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act, which aims to promote and encourage economic development of these groups.

The state amended the bill to increase the percentage of total construction spending awarded to businesses owned by minorities and women from 10 percent to 20 percent. The University’s proposal would increase guidelines from 15 to 20 percent at its Urbana and Springfield campuses, and at its Peoria and Rockford satellite campuses.

Goals at the Chicago campus would increase to 30 percent for construction projects since there are more opportunities “to impact underserved communities,” according to a press release.

Sharla Roberts, director of procurement diversity, thinks the University can meet these goals.

“I think the goals are reasonable and attainable,” she said. “We looked at the scope of availability of minority and women-owned vendors and that the goal we set is reasonable and attainable.”

The University spent $71.3 million on contracts with minority and women owned businesses throughout the 2016 fiscal year.

Roberts thinks increasing goals would have a “huge” effect on economies near the campuses. She said the University also hires mainly local companies for construction projects.

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