City Council President Nick J. Mosby, Council partners announce “Baltimore Business Inclusion and Empowerment Legislative Package”
BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, April 19, 2021) — To strengthen Baltimore-based businesses, City Council President Nick J. Mosby and Councilmembers Kristerfer Burnett and Antonio Glover will introduce a legislative package at Monday’s meeting to give local companies a better chance at competing for city contracts.
The Council must do more to empower local companies through minority- and women-owned development to successfully bid on and land contracts to perform services on behalf of the city from pouring concrete and laying carpet to building websites and supplying uniforms.
Baltimore-based companies hire Baltimore workers, Council President Mosby said.
“For far too long, the city has been held back by institutional practices based in inequities,” he said. “We see that in the lack of growth of minority- and women-owned businesses.
“Black Enterprise comes out with a list of the top Black-owned businesses, and Baltimore used to be home to a dozen of them. Today, you will find one or two. It is really problematic to see that shift and know what it means for the racial wealth gap in our city. This happened because of the structures we have in place, and the Council must be very intentional in finding legislative solutions to reverse these inequities.”
The “Baltimore Business Inclusion and Empowerment Legislative Package” would:
- Require contractors with projects valued at $100,000 or more to disclose annually where they are based, how many of their workers are Baltimore residents and how they performed on previous city contracts to show whether their work came in on time and at budget.
- Establish penalties for contractors that fail to meet the disclosure requirements.
- Ensure the city conducts market research before waiving requirements for minority- and women-owned business participation on city contracts.
- Compel all waivers to come before the Board of Estimates for approval.
- Establish a timeline and response process for companies to correct or withdraw a bid, including allowing small edits after a bid has been submitted to ensure small businesses do not inadvertently make a mistake that automatically disqualifies them from the process.
This is the second major legislative package since the Council’s December inauguration.
The Council’s legislative team is researching additional ways to improve the city’s contracting process to give minority- and women-owned businesses a competitive advantage. Additional bills will be introduced in the coming weeks. The legislation builds on the careful consideration the new membership on the Board of Estimates — including Council President Mosby, Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Comptroller Bill Henry — gives to all city contracts that come before the spending panel.
Council President Mosby, who is lead sponsor on the bill to allow companies to correct their bids, said he is excited to partner with Councilmembers Burnett and Glover on the legislation. The Council President is a co-sponsor on Burnett and Glover’s bills.
Councilmember Burnett, of District 8, said he is sponsoring the legislation to call on the city to perform market research as a step toward greater equity and inclusion. At the outset of the pandemic, Burnett said he became increasingly alarmed about an imbalance in city contracting that favored companies that weren’t owned by minorities or women, especially when it came to emergency awards.
“By studying what companies are available to compete for city projects, our agencies will be able to spot gaps in the market and help us identify places we can use legislation to build capacity among our local businesses,” Councilmember Burnett said. “This bill also does a really good job of helping the city get away from the sole-source contracts that continue to perpetuate inequities in our large-dollar projects. We’ve got to give an equal shot to businesses based in Baltimore.”
Councilmember Glover, of District 13, is the lead sponsor on the bill to require increased reporting from companies awarded contracts worth at least $100,000.
“This bill gets at the importance of who is doing the work of the city,” Councilmember Glover said. “Our city contracts mean the difference between who gets hired to do the work on projects large and small from building bridges to clearing roads after a snowstorm.”
Tiffinie Carroll owns two businesses in Baltimore: Insight Global Technology and Empowering Minds Resource Center. She said the legislative package will address a number of hurdles locally-owned small businesses face when trying to secure work with the city.
“The contracting world has a lot of loopholes, and it becomes frustrating for a small business when you are putting yourself out there to compete and many times you don’t feel like you have a fair chance at winning,” Carroll said. “This legislation will get the city moving in the right direction. These bills establish a foundation for small businesses to stand on and compete.”
Carroll founded her mental health agency, located near North Avenue and Charles Street, about 15 years ago. Her technology company, located off Howard Street, was founded about five years ago. Both are certified minority- and women-owned businesses.
Council President Mosby said improving the process for awarding city contracts will create new accountability and transparency. Too often, he said, contracts are being awarded to the same companies over and over again.
“True competition is not taking place at the level that we believe it should be,” Council President Mosby said. “Too many up-and-coming businesses and smaller businesses are excluded from the process. As Council President, it is my responsibility to push us in the direction we want to be. We will work alongside the mayor to accomplish these goals.”
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Office of City Council President Nick J. Mosby