City-parish leaders have launched a public-private partnership—which will form a Procurement Council that meets bimonthly—to assist women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses in securing contracting opportunities.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration, teaming up with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and nonprofit MetroMorphosis, announced the Baton Rouge Procurement Opportunity Partnership, or BR-POP, this morning, which Broome says was inspired by the BRAC Cincinnati Canvas trip of 2018.
Seven partners have committed to the initiative so far, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Jacobs, LSU, Our Lady of the Lake, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Southern University and Turner Industries. And the initiative is open to other partners willing to join.
The seven entities will have representatives on the Procurement Council, along with representatives from the organizing partners—the city-parish, MetroMorphosis, BRAC and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System Fair Share Program.
The council will meet to share contracting opportunities, provide feedback on suppliers hired and cultivate best practices to provide leadership in equity purchasing within their industries. The Procurement Council will also track metrics, such as the number of small businesses that have seen increased contracting opportunities and the dollar amount of total contracts awarded through BR-POP by council members.
“Diversity and inclusion are core values at Jacobs, so supporting this effort was a no-brainer,” says Carlos Giron, a Jacobs buildings and infrastructure account manager for Baton Rouge. “We want to be the employer of choice because there’s a race for talent… Having a diverse staff and partners brings thought leadership.”
Tevin Wade, construction director of minority-owned Core Electrical Contractors in Baton Rouge, which will participate in BR-POP, says the partnership is vital for small businesses like his, as it will help bridge the gap with larger companies and build relationships.
“This helps us scale our business,” Wade says, “and when it helps us scale, it helps us hire people from the community where I’m from.”
MetroMorphosis President and CEO Raymond Jetson says the partnership is a “critical step forward” for his organization’s LaunchBR initiative, which is already assisting small businesses with development in local disadvantaged communities. LaunchBR will complement the work the partnership will do.
The mayor and BRAC Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair Cheri Ausberry recalled the Cincinnati Canvas trip multiple times in their announcement today, saying the partnership is largely a result of the key takeaway from that trip, which was that partnering with the business community was crucial to the revitalization of Cincinnati.
Establishing a similar effort in Baton Rouge has been a signature goal for the BRAC board in 2019, as a well as a top priority for the mayor’s administration.