News Column

More Work Going to Women, Minority Firms

June 6, 2013

Minority- and women-owned businesses garnered a slightly higher share of Erie County construction and service contracts in 2012 than they did in 2011, according to figures released by the county this week.

The county's 2012 Minority & Women Vendor Usage report for businesses working on county contracts showed gains for women-owned businesses, as well as for local businesses that are primarily owned by African-Americans.

Purchases made by the county in 2012 totaled over $24.1 million.

Women-owned businesses accounted for $2.2 million of that, or 9.3 percent of total contracts awarded by the county last year. That is a 0.3 percent increase from the 9 percent of contracts that these businesses accounted for in 2011.

Gerri Hutton owns Anything Goes Advertising on Eileen Court in Buffalo and provides custom printed promotional materials for the county and other clients. The company was first certified as a Women's Business Enterprise in 1990, and she praised the county's outreach to women-owned businesses.

"Any of the county contacts that I have worked with, including the Purchasing Department, have been friendly, helpful, courteous and kind," said Hutton, who was contacted by The Buffalo News.

African-American businesses accounted for $663,893 in county business, or 2.8 percent of total contracts last year. That represents a significant increase from the 0.6 percent of county contracts that black-owned businesses garnered in 2011.

Hispanic-owned businesses accounted for $149,496 in contracts, or 0.62 percent of total contracts, up 0.1 percent from 2011.

There was a slight dip in the number of contracts awarded to Native American-owned businesses, which accounted for $106,405 in contracts or 0.44 percent of total contracts in 2012, down from 0.70 percent in 2011.

Asian American-owned businesses also saw a slight dip in county business, accounting for $238,820 in contracts or 0.99 percent of the total in 2012, down from 1.1 percent in 2011.

The numbers are compiled by the county's Department of Purchasing and the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and reflect the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses on county contracts in construction, as well as for the county's purchases of services and materials.

"The County of Erie and the City of Buffalo have a joint certification committee to certify that they're actually minority- or women-owned," said Jesse Burnette, director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.

Once the businesses are certified, the certification is good for three years, Burnette added.

The Division of Purchase and the EEO are tasked with the shared goal of building the county's minority- and women-owned businesses list.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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