University promotes minority business interaction

February 16, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Meghan Cunningham

The University of Toledo is taking the initiative to create more opportunities for small and minority-owned businesses to work with the institution.

The University has set formal goals above and beyond what is recommended by the state to promote Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) and Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Excellence (EDGE) participants in UT business.

Ohio encourages 15 percent MBE participation, and UT’s new policy sets an 18 percent mark. The EDGE goal is even more advanced, with a University goal of 15 percent compared to the state’s 5 percent.

“We applaud UT’s efforts to encourage the utilization of minority and small businesses and appreciate them reaching out to us for assistance,” said Melinda Carter, deputy director of the Equal Opportunity Division of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services and state equal employment opportunity coordinator. “They have a real passion to offer opportunities to minority and small businesses.”

The Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity Program was created by the state of Ohio to give an “EDGE” to small businesses competing for state contracts. The EDGE Program provides assistance to economically and socially disadvantaged business enterprises.

UT will exceed the state goals of the EDGE Program within three years. The University adopted a policy that calls for 10 percent EDGE-designated businesses participating in UT business within three years and 15 percent within 16 years.

The University’s Division of Purchasing also will increase the number of Minority Business Enterprises that are certified vendors for purchases of goods, services, materials and supplies. The University goal is to have a 2 percent annual increase in MBE participation in years one, two and three, and an overall MBE participation of 15 percent within six years.

“The University is committed to creating economic growth opportunities for our community by assisting local firms, particularly reaching out to minority-owned firms,” said Lawrence J. Burns, UT vice president for external affairs and interim vice president for equity and diversity. “UT has a strong commitment to diversity, and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to advance economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs.”

The new policy, which became effective Dec. 1, creates an oversight committee that will monitor the participation of small and minority-owned businesses and assist the University in meeting the newly established goals. The MBE/EDGE Participation Oversight Committee will include 12 UT faculty and staff members, a designee from the Department of Facilities and Construction, a designee from the Division of Purchasing, and business leaders from the community.

The vice president of equity and diversity will provide leadership for the program.

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