HILADELPHIA, PA. (December 6, 2021): Philadelphia City Council recently approved a resolution introduced by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) that would authorize hearings by the City Council’s Commerce and Economic Development Committee to examine diversity and inclusion in contracting by the City of Philadelphia and related public sector agencies, including the School District of Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
“Philadelphia is a city that is growing and diverse,” Johnson said. “While approximately 44 % percent of Philadelphia’s 1.6 million population is Black, The Philadelphia Office of Economic Opportunity’s 2020 disparity report showed that slightly less than 20% of City of Philadelphia contracts were awarded to minority-owned firms. Upon further breakdown, Black-owned companies won only 11.5% of city contracts, while Hispanic-owned businesses garnered only about 3.5%. Other public sector agencies that are closely affiliated with the City of Philadelphia in governance and funding have similarly failed to diversify contracting. It is unacceptable and Philadelphia is going in the wrong direction on diversity and inclusion.”
According to 2019 U.S. Census data, 44% of Philadelphia’s population is Black, and 15.2% are Hispanic or Latino. Although a majority of the population of the city is non-white, that fact is not often reflected in Philadelphia’s public sector contracting.
The passage of President Joe Biden’s bi-partisan infrastructure bill will send $1.2 trillion in federal funds to projects across the nation, including billions to Philadelphia and surrounding counties. This will help drive a rising economic tide, but it is essential that this tide lifts all boats, Johnson said.
As cities throughout the nation prepare for an influx of federal funds, and the economy continues to recover from the downturn caused by COVID-19, Johnson said it is of the utmost importance that the contracting and procurement processes are inclusive and that a pipeline for diverse vendors is built out to support that goal.
City Council approved Resolution No. 210966 at the Thursday, December 2 City Council session. Johnson is the lead sponsor of the resolution but it is also co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier, Cherelle Parker, Curtis Jones, Jr., Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Helen Gym, Mark Squilla, Derek Green, Isaiah Thomas, Allan Domb and Cindy Bass.
The date and time of the hearing will be determined by City Council, but is expected to be held sometime in early 2022.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a former Pennsylvania State Representative, represents the 2nd Council District, which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia, and Southwest Philadelphia. He is Chairman of City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.