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Press Release: Forest Preserves of Cook County Issues First Annual Diversity Report

Minority and women-owned firms exceed District’s participation goals for FY 2014

A first-ever Annual Business Diversity report was presented to the Forest Preserves of Cook County Board of Commissioners. The report consists of contractual commitments and actual payments to minority and women-owned business enterprises (MBE/WBE).

“For the first time, the Forest Preserves is proactively organizing hiring information into a publicly available report,” said Forest Preserve of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This reflects our goal to be more transparent as well as set benchmarks to ensure inclusion of more minority and women-owned business participation in contracts awarded by the Forest Preserves of Cook County.”

Contracts for goods and services have a 25 percent MBE goal and a 10 percent WBE goal. Construction contracts have a 24 percent MBE and 10 WBE with 35 percent being the overall goal for professional services contracts.

“In a short period of time the Forest Preserves have made great strides in expanding minority and women owned business participation,” said General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “The Forest Preserves of Cook County are an asset to all who live in the region and the contractors doing business with us should reflect that diverse population.”

Minority and women-owned businesses have historically been awarded contracts by the FPCC, but there was not a mechanism in place to formally consider MBE/WBE status as a factor in hiring. As a result, contracts awarded to minorities and women were disproportionally lower than the availability of such businesses in the marketplace.

In 2012, an official MBE/WBE ordinance was created. This allowed the FPCC to revise its procurement code in order establish a MBE/WBE program. The revised code provided for additional tools and resources to help businesses bid on contracts by:

  • Organizing and hosting events and educational forums for business owners
  • Participated in outreach forums with Cook County sister agencies
  • Enhanced the transparency of the Chicago Botanic Garden and Chicago Zoological Society contract opportunities
  • Established 35% MBE/WBE aspirational goal

Because of these efforts the FPCC not only met, but exceeded the 35 percent overall aspirational goal. In Fiscal Year 2014 the FPCC awarded contracts totaling more than $85 million. Of that amount $36.4 million went to MBE/WBE firms; $27 million to minority-owned and $9.375 to women-owned businesses.

The report offers an additional breakdown of the committed contract dollars by ethnicity. Amongst minority businesses 61 percent of contracts were awarded to Hispanic owned business, 22 percent to Asian owned business and 17 percent to African American owned businesses.

Of the total contracts awarded to women-owned business, 78 percent are Caucasian, 10 percent are African American, nine percent are Hispanic and three percent are Asian Americans.

Part of the success of the MBE/WBE program is the simplified online bid process. The FPCC also added the ability to view which companies have downloaded bid forms. This is particularly helpful for small businesses so they can pursue subcontracting opportunities with large businesses who may not meet the 35 percent MBE/WBE participation goal.

Businesses interested in working with the Forest Preserves can go to fpdcc.com to view Requests for Proposals, Requests for Qualifications, review contracts and register as a vendor to receive email notifications and solicitations for bids.


About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.