Equity Advancement Program seeks to extend more Bloomington construction contracts to women and minorities

A new initiative aims to ensure women and minorities get their fair share of construction contracts from the City of Bloomington.

The city officially kicks off the Bloomington Equity Advancement Program (BEAP) on Thursday in a launch event at the Minority Business Development Center in Eastland Mall. City council approved the measure, proposed by Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Michael Hurt, in April.

Hurt previously stated that such an initiative helps extend workforce equity beyond the city’s human resources department, since subcontractors are not hired directly by the city.

City contractors are now expected to provide a portion of subcontracting opportunities to minority and women-owned businesses on construction projects exceeding $50,000. Lead contractors are expected to make a good faith effort to allocate 10% of the contract’s monetary value to Minority Business Enterprises and 5% to Women Business Enterprises.

Census data indicate that 15% of all employer firms in McLean County are women-owned and 8% are minority-owned. No data is available for construction firms, specifically.

The program also requires 12% of total project hours be completed by minority workers. Female workers should comprise 2% of the project, or one in 50 workers.

Careers in construction are in high demand and seeing rapid wage growth in McLean County. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10% of construction workers nationwide are women. 60% of the U.S. construction workforce is white. McLean County is 80% white, compared to 60% nationwide.

The launch event Thursday, held between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., invites women and minority business owners to attend as the city builds a roster of eligible partners and vendors. Attendees are asked to bring a valid driver’s license, business owner documents and applicable documentation of Minority or Women Business Enterprise certifications.

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