More contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses with new King County and State of Washington agreement
King County and Washington state Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises will expand access to the county’s procurement and contracting opportunities for state certified minority– and women-owned businesses through implementation of a Fast Track Small Contractor and Supplier certification program.
On Tuesday, the King County Council approved legislation that increases contracting opportunities for small businesses owned by minorities, women and socially and economically disadvantaged people.
“This week’s announcement removes one more hurdle faced by minority- and women-owned firms and will broaden the pool of contractors at both the county and the state,” said Executive Constantine. “Expanding access to County resources and programming, such as procurement and contracting, is crucial to meeting our goal of advancing pro-equity policies that give all businesses the opportunity to thrive.”
King County and the Washington state Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) have been working collaboratively to implement a Fast Track Small Contractor and Supplier (SCS) Certification program that will expand access to the county’s procurement and contracting opportunities for state certified minority- and women-owned businesses. The OMWBE certifies small businesses owned and controlled by minority, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged persons, to increase contracting opportunities for these businesses with state and local governments.
Council Chair Claudia Balducci and Councilmembers Pete von Reichbauer and Rod Dembowski co-sponsored Proposed No. 2021-0213.1 – Reciprocal Certification.
Benefits of the Legislation
“This legislation benefits both small-business owners and the county by providing a level of certainty that had been missing while eliminating the redundancy that for too long muddied the process,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “In streamlining the certification process, these businesses are able to enter the competitive procurement process confident they are all starting at the same level.”
The benefits of the Fast Track SCS Certification process include eliminating the redundancy in certification processes that have overlapping eligibility criteria. In addition, the certifying entities can be confident that every certified business has received the same level of eligibility review before being certified to participate in its programs. The efficiencies gained can be significant because applicant business owners are required to have their certification eligibility approved by the County or the OMWBE to receive the benefits afforded to these businesses in the competitive public procurement process.
“We are thrilled that King County is partnering with OMWBE to make it easier for minority- and women-owned businesses to access the county’s certified Small Contractors and Suppliers program,” said Director Lisa van der Lugt. “This is a fine example of a local jurisdiction making use of the resources OMWBE provides, for the maximum benefit of small and diverse businesses in Washington State.”
King County and the OMWBE have different eligibility size standards for small business certification. King County’s size standards are set a 50% of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards. The OMWBE size standards are equal to 100% of the U.S. SBA size standards. To implement a Fast Track SCS Certification program requires that King County amend the Contracting Opportunities Program ordinance to match the State’s OMWBE size standards.
Since the adoption of Washington State Initiative-200 in 1998, King County’s Contracting Opportunities Program (“Program”) has been designed as a race- and gender-neutral program intended to support the participation of small businesses in county contracting. Although the Program has been race and gender neutral, the Program has historically taken affirmative actions to increase participation in public contracting by underrepresented groups.
The County has exceeded its goals for the participation of certified Small Contractors and Suppliers (SCS) in the Program and awarded more than $280 million dollars to these small businesses for an average of $56 million annually since 2016.