Arlington Launches Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program

As part of an ongoing initiative to increase the amount of business done with local companies, the City’s purchasing team has expanded to include a new coordinator for the City’s work with disadvantaged, minority, and woman-owned business enterprises, known collectively as MWBE.

New team member Reginald Cleveland brings a wealth of experience to the position, as he has previously supported MWBE and purchasing for Tarrant County College and DFW Airport.

The addition of a dedicated MWBE specialist better positions the City to identify, attract and grow a larger pool of qualified local providers of City-purchased goods and services, such as janitorial supplies, water chemicals or paper products.  Last year, these purchases rang up at about $59 million, not counting purchases related to construction.

“The Council and City management have been working on this initiative for some time and are very supportive of our efforts to grow our business with local providers,” said Debra Twinam, the City’s purchasing manager.

“The more vendors that come to the table, the better our chances of working with capable providers who will do the job well for the best price possible,” she explained. “In turn, working with the City benefits those businesses, especially small ones, because they gain credentials and experience that can lead to contracts with other municipalities or private sector companies.

“However, there are providers  out there that aren’t aware that the City is interested in working with local MWBE businesses, or that don’t yet see the City as an attractive option for them,” she went on. “Now that we have a MWBE expert on board, we can create policies that help us draw in local businesses and increase the amount we’re spending with them.”

As coordinator, Cleveland will focus on internal education that helps all City departments, including construction, better  understand how to effectively use the City’s supplier database and develop outreach processes that attract the most possible qualified bidders.

He’ll also manage external outreach efforts that improve access between local businesses and the City, like vendor meet-and-greets, seminars and relationship-building with area chambers of commerce.

“Sometimes the application for public sector contracts is a frustrating experience for businesses that  haven’t gone through the process before, because they don’t understand the big picture,” said Cleveland. “The presence of a dedicated staff member who can serve as a friendly resource to local businesses, someone who can help them navigate the system and break the process down into manageable pieces, can make all the difference.

“Even if a business doesn’t win a City bid, they can get something valuable out of the experience because they now better understand the process,” Cleveland continued. “They are then in a much better position to win work down the road.”

Learn more about adding your business to the City’s supplier database.

Learn more about becoming a certified minority or woman-owned or disadvantaged business.

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