The Common Council for the City of South Bend has unanimously approved a plan proposed by Mayor Peter Buttigieg's administration under which the City will set an annual goal of purchasing at least 15 percent of its goods and services from minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).
The plan was proposed following the conclusion of a disparity study commissioned by the City, which found that while MWBEs compose 15 percent of the market in the area, they were utilized for only approximately 12 percent of City business between 2015 and 2017. The annual goal of 15 percent will not apply to contracts valued below $50,000 or for contracts for which fewer than three MWBEs are available. Additionally, the 15 percent goal would be applied at the discretion of the City's Diversity Compliance Inclusion Officer, and waivers would be available to firms that could show they made a good-faith effort to find MWBEs to subcontract to but were unsuccessful in so doing.
The program approved by the Common Council also makes provision for set-aside contracts being awarded to small local emerging business enterprise firms in South Bend (which do not have to be minority- or woman-owned).
Common Council member John Voorde, who cast the sole opposing vote against the creation of an earlier version of the City's MWBE program when it was created in 1987, voted in favor of the new version of the plan, was quoted as saying, "Finally after all these years, I can say I enthusiastically support this, as I supported it in principle back in 1987," due to improved tracking mechanisms and the fact the program now has a diversity study backing it up.
Read the full South Bend Disparity Study at https://southbendin.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/City-of-South-Bend-Study-Report-2019-Final.pdf.