"The Value of Opportunity" : Rodney Strong in Governing Magazine

All it takes is an opportunity. 

While Griffin & Strong, P.C. (GSPC) has been at the forefront of the fight for economic inclusion for over 27 years, new allies are being developed continuously. Two years ago, Griffin & Strong was invited to apply to serve as cohort lead for the Living Cities City Accelerator, an initiative supported by the Citi Foundation. We saw this opportunity and Living Cities’ focus on economic equity as alignment with our organization’s mission. After a competitive process, GSPC was selected as cohort expert.

The shared learning of practitioners, business owners and other experts across the United States has challenged, inspired and resonated not only with the cohort participants, but with our firm and now several other cities across the United States.

All it took, was one opportunity.

Two years later, the value of strategic cross-sector partnerships has increased, as public and private interest have become more intertwined. It is now of the utmost importance for firms positioned between the public and private, such as GSPC, and not-for-profit entities, like Living Cities, to find ways to create and maximize collective impact.

This partnership began with Griffin & Strong’s selection to lead the City Accelerator cohort on Inclusive Procurement, culminating in the release of our implementation guide, Culture, Collaboration, and Capital on strategies to promote economic inclusion in local government contracting. It continues today, as we work side by side with Living Cities and municipal governments across the United States to promote equity and economic inclusion. The decision that Living Cities made to partner with Griffin & Strong, a Black owned law and public policy consulting firm, has produced considerable impact for not only the grant recipients, Living Cities, and Griffin & Strong, but will now impact 10 new cities through the City Accelerator’s newest cohort, continuing the work started two years ago to address procurement inclusion, innovation and re-orientation.


"Why Public Procurement Is a Civil Rights Issue"

by Oscar Perry Abello in Next City

There’s a battle for Atlanta going on right now — for its airport, specifically. Citing corruption and waste, the Republican-led, majority-white state legislature in Georgia wants to wrest control of the airport’s operations away from the Democrat-dominated, predominantly-black Atlanta government. The world’s busiest airport for 21 years running, Hartsfield-Jackson International is worth an estimated $34 billion in economic impact on the Atlanta metropolitan area, and $70 billion overall across the state of Georgia.

But the airport’s real impact is much deeper than just dollar signs, and it goes beyond just Atlanta or Georgia. The project steered public procurement contracts to minority-owned firms — one of the first major projects to do so successfully. This requirement inspired other projects and other cities to do the same, but also sparked a backlash against such programs that continues through today.

Rodney K. Strong has been through all the backlash, first as Atlanta’s director of contract compliance, and then as a principal at his law and consulting firm, Griffin & Strong.

“The person who put it best was James Brown,” says Strong. “It’s just living in America.”


GSPC President & CEO Inducted to Business Hall of Fame

ATLANTA, GA – Rodney K. Strong, President and CEO of Atlanta law and public policy consulting firm Griffin & Strong, P.C. (GSPC) was inducted into the Atlanta Business League Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

The Atlanta Business League recognizes African American businesses that have operated continuously and successfully for more than 25 years in the Atlanta metro area by inducting their owners or proprietors into the Hall of Fame.

“I really appreciate this honor,” Strong said as he received the award. “Coming from the Atlanta Business League it’s especially important because the ABL has always been on the front line fighting for business opportunity for African-American business people.”

Strong, who founded the firm in 1992 with his wife Delmarie Griffin, has become one of the foremost national experts in procurement disparity research and diversity program development. Before founding GSPC, he served as the City of Atlanta’s Director of Contract Compliance under Mayor Andrew Young and Mayor Maynard Jackson.

While I was Governor, with Rodney’s help, we more than quadrupled the minority participation in the state of Georgia in the contracting field.
— Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes

Strong has since led GSPC in conducting disparity studies for numerous cities, states and other government entities including, among others, the State of Tennessee, The Georgia Department of Transportation, the City of Atlanta, The City of Savannah, GA, and the City of Memphis, TN, while developing the firm into a top-notch public policy consultancy. The firm is currently the Supplier Diversity Consultant for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and represents a range of government and corporate clients.

A video preceding Strong’s induction featured comments from former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes.

“Rodney has done more to bring about diversity – economic diversity, in particular – by allowing and drafting those programs that lead to legal standards to make sure that all people are able to participate in the largesse of the contracting of the State of Georgia,” former Georgia Gov. Barnes said. “While I was Governor, with Rodney’s help, we more than quadrupled the minority participation in the state of Georgia in the contracting field.”

Young recalls that Strong was instrumental in significantly increasing the percentage of business Atlanta did with minority vendors and contractors during his tenure as mayor.

“Rodney headed up the Minority Purchasing Division of the City of Atlanta,” Young said. “He took over from Maynard Jackson when we were doing about 25 percent of the business of the City. By the time we got to the Olympics, we were up to 41 percent. Rodney deserves this award and everything he has coming his way.”

Please help us congratulate him on this accomplishment.

Griffin & Strong, P.C. is a law and public policy consulting firm based in Atlanta, GA. Since 1992, the firm has represented individual clients, small businesses, corporations, and government entities in public policy consulting, legislation, contract compliance, supplier diversity consulting, and disparity studies.


Even Majority-Black Cities Struggle With Minority Contracting Programs

This story was produced with support from the City Accelerator program.

In 2010, Memphis, Tenn., released a report on the status of the city’s certified minority- and women-owned businesses. How well were those businesses being represented in city contracts? Was the city discriminating against them? Were official policies getting in the way? The results were not promising.

Then in 2016, the city released a follow-up study -- and the picture was even worse. The second disparity study, conducted by Atlanta consulting firm Griffin & Strong, showed that disparity in the city’s purchasing practices had actually increased for most businesses, including major categories like construction, architecture, engineering and other goods. The only place where things had gotten better was in “other professional services,” which includes lawyers, doctors, accountants and banks.

In response to the report, Mayor Jim Strickland sought to improve the city’s business relationships with minority- and women-owned enterprises (MWBEs), which was one of his campaign promises when he assumed office in 2016 after defeating A C Wharton.



Source: http://www.governing.com/cityaccelerator/b...

Griffin & Strong to Kickoff City of Tacoma Disparity Study

Griffin & Strong, P.C. (“GSPC”), an Atlanta based law and public policy consulting firm, is conducting the 2018 Disparity Study for the City of Tacoma, Washington. This study is designed to review the City’s procurement process and analyze its contract awards, including those to small, disadvantaged, minority, and women owned businesses. Analysis of the Tacoma Small Business Enterprise (SBE) and Local Employment and Apprenticeship Program (LEAP) will also be conducted. GSPC has also partnered with The Planning Studio, a local, small business enterprise, to complete community outreach and anecdotal interviews.

To kick off the Study, GSPC will be facilitating an informational meeting to discuss the study, its purposes, methodology, and ways the public and business community can be involved. The meeting will be held October 19th from 6 PM – 7:30 PM at Tacoma Public Utilities (Room ABN-M1). The address is 3628 S. 35th St. Tacoma, WA 98409.

The City of Tacoma and GSPC encourage and welcome the Tacoma community, including business owners, community groups, business organizations and local advocates, regardless of ethnicity, to attend and find ways to participate in this Study. For more information regarding this study, please contact GSPC Deputy Project Manager, Sterling Johnson, at TacomaStudy@gspclaw.com or sterling(at)gspclaw.com. To learn more about Griffin & Strong, visit gspclaw.com. Griffin & Strong, P.C. is a law and public policy consulting firm based in Atlanta, GA. Since 1992, the firm has represented individual clients, small businesses, corporations, and government entities in public policy consulting, legislation, contract compliance, supplier diversity consulting, and disparity studies.


Source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/10/prwe...

Rodney Strong: How Can Cities Boost Minority-Owned Businesses? By Buying from Minority-Owned Businesses

When Maynard H. Jackson Jr. took over Atlanta city hall in 1974, one of his primary goals was to broaden the opportunities for minorities to do business with the city. The upstart mayor envisioned improved socio-economic conditions for people of color in an environment that was fair, equitable and welcoming for all. By the time he left office in 1982, Atlanta’s first black mayor had made remarkable strides in accomplishing his lofty aims, despite the social underpinnings of the times.

Atlanta had adopted the moniker “The City Too Busy to Hate” during the Civil Rights movement. But Maynard really moved Atlanta toward the realization of that slogan, by creating a legacy of inclusiveness in municipal procurement and providing opportunity for advancement both inside city hall and throughout the metropolitan region. The network of minority- and women-owned businesses, which received their first opportunities with the city of Atlanta, has continued to grow, with many of those local businesses continuing to work with Atlanta as well as other jurisdictions across the country.

Maynard was my mentor and friend, and I had the opportunity to work with him as he was guiding the city to a standard of business diversity that has set national benchmarks. I’m proud our firm was selected to expand upon the example he set by leading the latest iteration of City Accelerator, a joint initiative of the Citi Foundation and Living Cities to foster municipal innovation, which will be focused on increasing the diversity of municipal vendors and contractors to direct more dollars to local minority-owned businesses...READ MORE



Source: http://www.governing.com/cityaccelerator/b...

2018 Disparity Study and Minority Enterprise Growth and Needs Study Informational Meeting Announcement

Griffin & Strong, P.C. ("GSPC") is under contract with the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County (“Metro Nashville”) to conduct the 2018 Disparity Study and Minority Enterprise Growth & Needs Study (“MEGAN Study”). The Disparity Study will review Metro Nashville’s procurement practices and analyze participation in awards by Minority and Women owned Business Enterprises (“MWBE”). The MEGAN Study will provide a growth and needs assessment of minority firms within Davidson County to better assist them to do business in and with Metro Nashville.

Community members are invited to participate in an informational meeting about these studies to learn about the methodologies used and ways to be fully engaged in the study process. The informational meeting will be held:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Howard Office Building: Fulton Campus

Sonny West Conference Room

700 2nd Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37210

You are encouraged to attend to hear important information and provide commentary regarding these impactful studies. This community meeting will be facilitated by Griffin & Strong, P.C. and not Metro Nashville government. Please direct all questions to GSPC Deputy Project Manager, Sterling Johnson, at MetroNashvilleStudy(at)gspclaw.com or sterling(at)gspclaw.com. Please note all comments during the meeting may be recorded and potentially used in the studies.


Source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/09/prwe...

Disparity study to examine participation by minority, woman and disadvantaged business enterprises. - Greensboro - Triad Business Journal

Griffin & Strong PC, a law and public policy consulting firm based in Atlanta, has been retained by the city to conduct the disparity study that will examine participation by minority, woman and disadvantaged business enterprises (“M/W/DBE”)

Through this process, the city has indicated its intent to render a diverse and equitable business environment that will benefit all of its vendors and ensure that public contracting opportunities are equally available to all parties.

“We have already witnessed first-hand the active engagement of M/W/DBE firms in the anecdotal process,” said Rodney Strong, CEO of Griffin & Strong PC. “We urge all firms to participate in the public hearings so their opinions of the city of Greensboro’s purchasing process are stated for the record.” READ MORE


Source: https://www.bizjournals.com/triad/news/201...

City Accelerator Expands To Five More U.S. Cities With A Focus On Strengthening Local Procurement

The Citi Foundation and Living Cities today announced the expansion of the City Accelerator program to five additional U.S. cities – Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Milwaukee. The five cities will work together over the next year to refine their approach to procurement spending, pursuing at least one new strategy to increase the diversity of municipal vendors and contractors and direct more spend to local minority-owned businesses. This collaboration supports the goal of City Accelerator, to support innovative local government projects within and across cities that have a significant impact on the lives of residents, especially those with low incomes.

"These cities are taking a hard look at how they purchase goods and services for their communities," said Ed Skyler, Citi's Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs and Chairman of the Citi Foundation. "They recognize that there is an opportunity to strengthen their procurement practices – and cities overall – by connecting directly with the diverse businesses and ideas within their communities. We are excited to see the ideas and approaches that come from this year's City Accelerator."



Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/c...