City of Pensacola Launching New Minority & Women Business Program in July
The City of Pensacola’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program is being launched during this month of July. George Maiberger, the city’s Purchasing Manager, recently hired the new M/WBE Program Manager, Cameron White. In an interview with the Pensacola Voice, Maiberger said that he feels the M/WBE Program will be a “good program to increase minority participation at the City of Pensacola”. He also commented that, “The biggest hurdle will be getting enough minority and women-owned businesses listed with the city to create a pool of subcontractors for prime contractors to access”. The city presently has sixty-nine African-American companies and fifty-six women owned companies in their data base.
Cameron White is a master’s graduate from the University of West Florida in Government Contracts and Acquisitions. He stated in the Pensacola Voice interview that his view of the job opportunity is a potentially challenging one for a program that is needed in Pensacola. He stated that his objective is to “make sure it is run successfully here”. The purchasing management team has already reached out to the local African-American Chamber of Commerce to partner on outreach to the area’s minority businesses. Maiberger added that the City of Pensacola has been advertising bid opportunities with the Pensacola Voice for years.
The City of Pensacola approved the M/WBE program developed by MGT of America at their August 28, 2014 City Council meeting. Mayor Ashton Hayward recommended the M/WBE Program’s historical implementation with an effective date of January 2, 2015. However the program was delayed due to the adoption of the program’s ordinance on January 15th and due to the advertising, hiring process and the purchasing of new program software.
Prior to the City Council’s approval, the process included MGT meeting with the following organizations: Pensacola Area Chamber, the African American Chamber, the Association of General Contractors, Florida Black Chamber, former members of the National Association of Minority Contractors in Escambia County, the University of West Florida, and the Pensacola Branch of the NAACP.
MGT of America’s initial review in 2008 of City purchasing from 2005-2007 identified approximately 1% of total expended dollars were awarded to minority firms. Following the review of the MGT recommendations the stage was then set for Ashton Hayward, once he became the strong mayor, to contract with MGT for a comprehensive (full-blown) procurement disparity study in 2011.
The purpose of a disparity study is to determine if any government has a compelling reason and interest in establishing an M/WBE Program. A disparity study is a fact-based technique used to establish whether or not the underutilization of minorities and women exists in the purchasing practices of a governmental entity. This fact based approach must be developed in order to establish the legal validity of establishing a program which complies with U. S. Supreme Court rulings. Pensacola fulfilled all of the steps to establish the only M/WBE program on the Gulf Coast between Tallahassee and Houston, Texas.