March 12, 2018

Building greater equity in contracting

Building and preserving affordable housing is a key goal at Meyer, and for the past two years, the Housing Opportunities portfolio has invested about $2 million in affordable multifamily projects around the state. As part of that process, we ask all applicants: What is your goal on this project for minority-owned, women-owned or emerging small business participation? This has become increasingly important as housing organizations grow capacity and strategically align to meet local, city, state and regional goals around equity in contracting contributing to equitable outcomes for contractors and subcontractors.

Why is equity in contracting important to Meyer?

  • Our mission is to contribute to an equitable and flourishing Oregon, and we see equity in contracting as an important prong in that mission.
  • As a community we have not collectively been successful in establishing and meeting goals that lead to long-term impacts for the success of all contractors.
  • Meyer and its nonprofit partners have struggled to identify and find resources that help organizations to connect with contractors and subcontractors in all parts of the state.
  • Meyer recognizes there are barriers at the systems level that our nonprofit partners could address head-on as a part of operationalizing equity in their work.

What is Meyer looking for in question responses? We are looking to see:

  • How the applicant views equity in contracting and what its connection is internally within organizational strategies and practices. Does the organization generally approach equity in contracting for its projects or just for the project in the grant proposal?
  • How the organization and their business partners identify real strategies that impact aspects of bidding and working with contractors and subcontractors.
  • Clear goals with outcomes that address a clear strategy.
    • What is your goal, what are the details, and what is driving it?
    • Does your goal relate to any other equity strategies in your organization?
    • What is the diversity of the overall workforce (i.e., all people involved in the project)? Are there training and workforce development opportunities for communities facing disparities in this project?

In this construction market, we understand that many developers have challenges to secure any contractors or subs, let alone those contractors that are less represented in the trades by gender, race or other factors. At the same time, we want to partner with organizations that are continuing to push themselves to develop the relationships, expertise and structures that move toward greater equity in contracting.

Because Meyer is a statewide funder, we also understand that the contractor base may look very different in Ontario and Albany. Although COBID (Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity) or SDVBE (Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise) and other certifications can increase capacity to compete for public projects, Meyer takes a more flexible view around equity certifications.

If you are planning to submit a capital grant request in the Annual Funding Opportunity and want to discuss equity in contracting issues, feel free to reach out to housing staff by emailing questions [at] mmt.org

Need more information on MWESB, COBID and SDVBE Certification? Visit these resources:

Jody