City initiative aims to help microlocal business enterprises access river restoration contracts

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The city of Grand Rapids launched an initiative to help microlocal business enterprises access dozens of upcoming river restoration contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Staff from the city’s Office of Equity and Engagement introduced the MLBE registration program Tuesday during a city commission meeting. Equity Analyst Ciarra Adkins and Business Developer Alvin Hills IV outlined the program’s primary goals:

  • Ensure future restoration of the Grand River embeds racial and economic equity principles in the water and along the riverbanks
  • Decrease systemic barriers and register 30 to 40 small, minority- or women-owned firms on the city’s MLBE list
  • Encourage local jobs and wealth creation
  • Create opportunities for capacity building within city partner agencies Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses and West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“As part of our River for All project, we wanted to make sure that not only will the river be an equitable place for all to access and enjoy, but that its construction and restoration and the development along its banks were equitable, as well,” Adkins said. “This proactive approach will ensure that microlocal businesses have a chance to compete and earn contracts related to the river restoration project.”

Kent County-based small, minority- and women-owned businesses that register will be eligible to bid on a host of river construction opportunities this fall and winter. The MLBE registration program goes through Oct. 31.

Registered businesses will receive details, including sign-in information, for five virtual informational sessions on how their work can affect the River for All development. The informational sessions — set for 5-6 p.m. on five consecutive Thursdays — are aimed at specific contractors:

  • Landscapers – July 9
  • Trucking contractors – July 16
  • Concrete contractors – July 23
  • Excavation contractors – July 30
  • General MLBEs – Aug. 6

Businesses may register as a vendor or supplier online. Before registration, call the city’s purchasing department at (616) 456-3172 to receive a commodity code(s) for the business profile. This ensures the business receives emails for future bid opportunities.

Interested businesses are encouraged to work with GRABB or WMHCC to complete the application. For GRABB, email Jamiel Robinson at info@grabblocal.com. For WMHCC, email Guillermo Cisneros at guillermo@westmihcc.org.

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