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Utilities extend help to MWBEs.

In response to state laws and regulations that require minimum contract procurement goals for spending with minority- and female-owned businesses (MWBEs), many utilities have created in-house departments that promote their minority- and female-owned procurement programs and assist interested vendors in filling out lengthy certification applications. By providing this assistance, these utilities have increased the number of contracts awarded to minority- and female-owned firms.

The approach has worked well at Southern California Edison (SCE). In 1990, the Los Angeles-based utility awarded $167.4 million in contracts to female- and minority-owned firms. That amounted to 17.8% of all contracts awarded, exceeding its goal of 16.3%. The goal for 1991 was 20%, 15% minority and 5% women, said Diana Sanchez-Roberson, manager of the company's female and minority business program. Roberson says contracts are awarded in three general areas: services, construction and commodities.

To ensure the success of the program, SCE hired C.W. Miller & Associates, a Los Angeles-based black-owned management consultant firm to review the technical capabilities of minority and female applicants. Miller says that often, prospective vendors have the capabilities, "but just don't have the staff to adequately complete the application." He advises interested vendors to be persistent. "Put your best effort forward and fill out the forms," says Miller.

The San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s equal opportunity purchasing program has worked to increase the utility's direct purchasing from minorities and women. MWBEs earned $166 million in service and product contracts in 1990 (15.9% of all contracts), up from $161 million in 1989. Of course, not all states are doing as well. According to MWBE program administrator Margie Grant, the New York Power Authority spent $22 million with minority and female vendors in 1990, about 4% of all contracts awarded.

Vendors should inquire about minority- and female-owned business procurement programs at utilities in their area. In some states, minimum goals for participation may mean more opportunities for minority- and female-owned businesses.
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Title Annotation:minority- and female-owned businesses
Author:Stewart, Pearl
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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