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Published on Jan 28, 2010
The Portland Development Commission has exceeded 35 percent diversity in contracting in a city that is reported to be the whitest in the United States. Bold adoption of aggressive requirements followed by structural changes and internal oversight made the difference. In each of the past two years, PDC has exceeded its goals for utilization of minority, women-owned and emerging small businesses (M/W/ESB) by at least 15 percent annually, achieving more than 35 percent of the dollars committed to state-certified firms.
For 2008-2009, PDC spent $94 million on construction projects; $35 million of that went to M/W/ESB firms. Another $36 million is committed to additional PDC-supervised projects of more than $70 million to M/W/ESB firms. Apprentices worked nearly 250,000 of the total hours in the past fiscal year, or three percent above the 20 percent PDC goal.
"For PDC to be willing to take this on, to commit to making a difference here, says that part of economic development is economic development for everybody. Thats leadership, says Connie Ashbrook, founder of Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.