City of St. Louis, SLDC Joins City Innovation Ecosystems Program

Commits to reducing barriers to obtaining city contracts for small and minority-led businesses

January 7, 2022 | 3 min reading time

This article is 2 years old. It was published on January 7, 2022.

ST. LOUIS – The City of St. Louis today announced it has committed through the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) to making public contracting more accessible for small and minority-led businesses by reducing the barriers firms face when doing business with the City of St. Louis. This commitment was made at the National League of Cities (NLC) City Summit as part of the City Innovation Ecosystems (CIE) program, which will provide the City of St. Louis with resources and support to help entrepreneurs of color achieve greater economic mobility.

“Expanding opportunity through public contracting is essential to improve equity in our city,” said SLDC Chair Neal Richardson. “St. Louis through SLDC is proud to join the CIE program to reduce barriers and make public contracting more accessible for small and minority-led businesses.”

The CIE program, an initiative of the National League of Cities (NLC), helps cities adopt policies, programs and practices to give underrepresented entrepreneurs more opportunities for economic advancement. Participants select an area of focus for their programs to support economic growth in their communities. Now in its third year, this network has grown to include more than 175 cities, 200 local partners, and $100 million in committed resources.

The City of St. Louis has selected an area of focus around inclusive public procurement and has pledged to take action to reduce barriers to obtaining city contracts for businesses owned by women and people of color. In cities across the country, disparities exist in the amount of contracts and dollars going to small and minority-led firms relative to their overall availability in the community. Furthermore, many of these firms struggle to navigate complex and cumbersome government processes or may not even be aware of what opportunities exist to do business with the government. As businesses recover from COVID-19, winning a contracting opportunity with local government can be a much needed boost to revenue for small firms and can be the ingredient that helps them expand their business. 

The City of St. Louis joins 59 other cities from across the country that have made a total of 78 commitments. As part of its participation in the CIE program, The City of St. Louis will receive direct technical assistance, information sharing with other cities, and financial support to help implement its program. 

Technical assistance will be provided by the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) and include supporting cities with: (1) surveying diverse vendors to understand the barriers they face when bidding on contracting opportunities; (2) right-sizing contracts into smaller opportunities that may be more accessible for small firms; and (3) piloting new methods of market research and targeted outreach to notify more small, local, and diverse businesses of contracting opportunities.

“Leaders of America’s cities, towns and villages recognize that racial and gender equity are key ingredients to economic growth in communities,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of NLC. “We look forward to working with new members of the City Innovation Ecosystems program to bring their commitments to fruition and create economies in which everyone wins.” 

The CIE program is made possible in partnership with and support from Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. For more information about the program, click here.

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About the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab
The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL), based in the School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, supports state and local governments across the country in designing and implementing solutions to pressing social problems. The GPL has conducted more than 200 projects in 35 states, helping innovative state and local government leaders improve the results they achieve for their residents. An important part of the GPL’s research model involves capturing the insights, tools and practices that are gained through these hands-on projects and sharing them with government leaders across the country.

  • Contact Information:
    Donna Campbell
    Marketing Specialist
    Office Phone: (314) 657-3745
  • Department:
    St. Louis Development Corporation
  • Topic:

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