For the first time, Philly meets goal for contracting with minority- and women-owned businesses

Philadelphia City Hall.
Photo credit Holli Stephens / KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia is getting better at steering city contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses, according to the Office of Economic Opportunity's annual report

Iola Harper, deputy commerce director, says that in the last fiscal year, which ended in July, Philadelphia — for the first time — met its goal for contracting with historically disadvantaged firms.

"Thirty-five percent of every for-profit dollar was spent with a minority-, woman- or disabled-owned business," Harper said.

Harper said that represented $254 million in contracts. 

That's actually $25 million less than the total for the previous year but a higher percentage because city contracting decreased last year. The total also includes one very large contract for facilities maintenance that has since been awarded to a non-minority firm. 

Harper says that will make it challenging to meet the goal next year.

"It's my hope that initiatives like Rebuild will make up for some of the dollars that are lost. So I don't anticipate a big loss but we may remain flat," Harper added. 

Harper acknowledges there's a lot left to do but says she hopes this is the beginning of a cultural shift. This year also saw a shift in which group got more contracts: 23 percent went to minority-owned firms and 12 percent to women-owned firms.