The representation of Equitable Minority and Women Business Enterprises opportunities in St. Louis County has undergone a number of iterations in the interests of creating a space where all the necessary components are in place to operate an effective MWBE program.
It takes having champions at the highest level to run an impactful program and County Executive Dr. Sam Page is committed from the highest level possible.
I was appointed as the chief diversity officer to drive strong programs that will ensure that MWBEs have equitable opportunities to do business with or on behalf of St. Louis County:
● Strong programs have measurable outcomes.
● Strong programs build training around efforts that coach business owners on how to build capacity and how to become more bankable, thus creating more pathways to access capital.
● Strong programs ensure that more resources are at the disposal of minority business owners.
● Strong programs should have a vision of how to develop pathways for minority businesses to experience more success.
● Strong programs need an effective leader.
Our program is making great strides towards strong moves:
● Nate Adams has accepted the position of director of minority business development and compliance, a merit position in the Administration Department. This is important because it makes complying to the interests of MWBEs a permanent part of county government. Adams brings more than 40 years of experience to this position. He is well versed in MWBE programming and is primely positioned to head a team of professionals to carry out this charge. His office will be supported by four additional hires this quarter.
● Page has appointed the Business Advisory Council, composed of members who are experts in identifying the needs of MWBEs. Under the direction of the chief diversity officer, the Council members will serve as advocates on behalf of minority business owners. Their focus will be on increasing MWBE access to the St. Louis County procurement process, offer advice on the rules and regulations of the program and provide input forthe Disparity Study.
Members of the council are as follows:
o Dottie Koch, owner B&B Waterproofing, LLC.]
o Alejandro Santiago, Esq., membership manager, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
o Janice Harris, owner, Davidson Surface Air
o John Stiffler, St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council
o Kelly Reid Jackson, executive director St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers
o Michael Newton, IBEW, Local 1
o Nguyen Violette, president of the Asian Chamber of Commerce and owner of Shred-It
o Ronny Griffin, president of Laborers Local 110
o Sonette Magnus, partner at Lewis & Rice, LLP
The BAC met this month and will continue to meet quarterly.
In the coming months we will:
● Release an RFP for a Disparity Study as stipulated by our ordinance.
● Release rules and regulations to further support proper execution of the MWBE program.
● Continue to meet with a fully seated BAC
● Continue to meet with stakeholders to ensure that minority businesses have everything they need to successfully do business with St. Louis County and beyond.
● Engage the public to get input to ensure the success of our program.
The ultimate objective is to create a viable and growing minority business community that is a vital part of the St. Louis economy and we are well on our way to doing so.
Veta T. Jeffery is the chief diversity officer for St. Louis County.