Cincinnati officials announced Tuesday morning that more city contracts for 2016 were awarded to minority and women-owned businesses.
The details were announced during a press conference at the Duke Energy Center.
For 2016, $19.6 million of city contracts were awarded to minority-owned businesses and another $8.3 million to women-owned businesses. That is about 25 percent of the $112.5 million dollars in city contracts awarded last year.
"This accounts for 24.85 percent of our total contract awards for the year," said city manager Harry Black. "This is just in year one of the program. We basically went from low single-digit utilization percentages now to strong, double-digit utilization percentages."
In recent years those numbers were much lower including $3.98 million in 2014 and $8.2 million in 2014.
In addition, the city now works with private developers to establish MBE and WBE goals for city-sponsored economic development, or construction, projects.
For 2016, those private developers awarded $8.2 million worth of work to those firms. Plus there was another $16.5 million committed in 2016 that will be spent in 2017.
Black said he expects the numbers to continue growing in the coming years.
"We've implemented the infrastructure; we have the commitment of all of our leadership from the mayor, the council, and the community," Black said. "The community at large as well as the business community have well-received this program."
Mayor John Cranley made increasing contract for minority-owned and women-owned firms a priority soon after he was elected in 2013. He setup a task force to study the issue and it made a number of recommendations, many of which the city has implemented.
A disparity study released in July 2015 showed a pattern "of discrimination in contracting specially related to minority and women owned businesses."
The city also now has a department dedicated to economic inclusion.