CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that businesses owned by minorities, women or persons with disabilities had increased access to state business in FY05 and were awarded $387 million in contracts for goods and services, up from $353 million in FY04. Through the Business Enterprise Program (BEP), State agencies and universities are encouraged to purchase 19 percent of goods and services from businesses owned and controlled by diverse interests. Registered diverse entrepreneurs were awarded 23 percent of the business – $64 million higher than the goal.
“Women, minorities and persons with disabilities are having greater access to State of Illinois business because our agencies have redoubled their efforts to ensure people from all backgrounds and life experiences have a seat at the table to compete for this important business,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
A wide range of products and services that the State regularly procures is subject to BEP spending goals. Altogether, $1.69 billion in spending is subject to the goal. The Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), the chief procurement agency for the State, manages the BEP program.
In an innovative move in 2005 to further support diverse firms, CMS began requiring that businesses bidding on select large contracts subcontract with BEP-certified firms. Through this
strategy, the agency has developed contracts that will result in an additional $5 million of State business being awarded to diverse firms.
The first such contract, for office supplies, was awarded to Office Depot as general contractor, and will generate $3 million for three diverse firms over the life of the 5-year contract. In addition, CMS has developed a number of contracts that will generate an additional $2 million of business for BEP-certified firms.
“The growth of the Business Enterprise Program shows that we are not only meeting goals, but exceeding goals, and that means that diverse businesses have greater access than ever before. But Gov. Blagojevich has been very clear that we must help even more women, minorities and persons with disabilities to compete for and receive state contracts next year, and we continue to look for new ways to do just that,” said Paul Campbell, Acting Director of CMS.
Earlier this year, CMS announced that more Illinois small businesses received state contracts in 2005 thanks to Gov. Blagojevich’s recent expansion of the state’s Small Business Set Aside (SBSA) program. A record $16 million in set-aside contracts were awarded to Illinois small businesses last year, a 165 percent increase over the 2004 total.
In addition, nearly half of the contracts awarded under the SBSA program were won by diverse firms. Taken together, these statistics are evidence that the State’s programs are expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs. Last year, the Administration expanded the number of contracts set aside for small firms, the number of contracts awarded to small businesses and the number of small firms eligible to compete in the Small Business Set Aside program.
Throughout the past year, CMS led many efforts that ultimately helped achieve these successes. Efforts included hosting more than 50 workshops throughout Illinois, in addition to the ongoing BEP-certification workshops held in downtown Chicago every month. More recently, CMS extended the workshop into the online world, hosting a webcast so that entrepreneurs could participate from the convenience of their homes and offices. Overall, CMS has heightened
efforts to enroll entrepreneurs in the programs, reserved more contracts as set asides for small firms and continued to encourage state agencies to engage more small and diverse businesses when procuring state contracts.
Eligible businesses are encouraged to enroll in the Business Enterprise and Small Business Set Aside Programs by contacting 1-866-ILL-BUYS or visiting www.Business.Illinois.gov. After enrolling for these special programs, business owners are encouraged to register their product or service specialties on the Illinois Procurement Bulletin. Once registered, they automatically receive email notification when the State is requesting bids or proposals in their product or service category.