L.A. County Supervisor Leads Initiative to Publicize Contract Opportunities in Minority Publications

Written by The Los Angeles Sentinel

Recently, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors spearheaded a motion to create policy for placing classified advertisements to publicize the county’s contracting opportunities in local newspapers and weeklies.

The motion comes from concerns of newspapers like the Sentinel, being left out of an over $6 billion dollar contract in which the county spends for goods and services.

In late April, local publications were invited to weigh in on the benefits that the policy would have and to show support for the motion. Some of the newspapers and weeklies in attendance were the Los Angeles Sentinel Managing Editor, Brandon Brooks, La Opinión Newspaper, and PACE News.

The reading of the agenda item began with Ridley-Thomas providing those in the room with background information on the motion.

“In recent years the board has thoughtfully enacted reforms to the county’s contracting policies,” said Ridley-Thomas.

“These reforms aim to leverage the county’s purchasing power and the way that cultivates a more equitable economy.”

Ridley-Thomas stated that he would like the county contracts to support the vitality of small businesses and social enterprises, foster more minority-owned and women-owned business opportunities, increase opportunities for veterans, extend employment to people with convictions amongst other things.

PACE News Founder/President, Dr. Gloria Zuurveen, spoke next, followed by Brooks.

“This is a subject very near and dear to not only myself but as I said, to our entire staff. The L.A. Sentinel is celebrating its 85th year this year, and that is very historic. We are very proud to be an institution of the community and a support system,” said Brooks.

“I always say, ‘educate, inform, and inspire’ and I think that’s our duty every day. This is about social justice, about inclusion, about equity, and this is an opportunity for us to partner in the right way. I don’t believe we are looking for by any means a blank check or a handout as someone would say. We are looking for an opportunity or a fair share of opportunities to promote and to amplify these opportunities that you all have.”

Brooks goes on to say that these contract opportunities are in the communities where publications similar to the Sentinel, represent. He also mentioned the economic empowerment behind the Taste of Soul Family Festival and the evolution of the way in which news is disseminated.

“[Taste of Soul] gives vendors an opportunity to showcase their businesses in front of thousands and that’s just a taste of the community, I believe we represent on a daily and weekly basis. We have also evolved with our community by offering the Anytime, Anywhere campaign (we have a website and a mobile app) and we are able now to meet our consumers in a market where they need to be met.”

Brooks closed with touching on the contract being a prime opportunity to work with the county.

In the motion, Ridley-Thomas discusses the importance of contracting these opportunities to help increase the economic impact of the large amount of goods and services the county obtains.

“As such, it is appropriate to evaluate the current process for conducting outreach and publicizing county contract opportunities to ensure that they are achieving the intended goals.”

The motion requested that the Board of Supervisors direct the Chief of Executive Officer, in consultation with the Director of the Department of Internal Services and County Counsel, to report back in writing in 30 days with the following:

  • The process that thecountyof Los Angeles (County) employs to select websites and print publications to advertise county contract opportunities, including the factors considered when deciding whether or not to post an advertisement
  • The websites and print publications regularly used to advertise contract opportunities with thecounty
  • The mechanism used to determine whether posted opportunities are effectively maximizing outreach to prospective vendors, and are intentionally including all segments of the population
  • And a recommended policy to ensure regular updates to thecounty’s publicizing process to promote greater access and awareness of county contract opportunities.

The motion was moved by Ridley-Thomas and seconded Supervisor Hilda Solis, as amended, resulting in the motion being passed unanimously. Many publications believe the Board of Supervisors motion is a great start and a step in the right direction in creating diversity in contracting opportunities at the county level.

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