"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.

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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.

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

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...

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."

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