City of Toledo Outlines Updates to New Equitable Business Opportunities Program

Councilwoman Tiffany Whitman, PhD

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

The City of Toledo held a meeting outlining its updates to its new Equitable Business Opportunities Program at the Main Branch Library Large Glass Room on Wednesday March 27. Toledeans were given the opportunity to provide feedback to shape the final product.

Tiffany Presten Whitman, EdD, director/chief equity officer of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion City of Toledo; along with Abby Arnold, deputy chief of staff; Melanie Campbell and Bryan Benner representing the City of Toledo Finance Department, presented the findings and facilitated the discussion regarding the city’s plans.

Toledo’s new Equitable Business Opportunities Program “seeks to increase economic opportunities for small or disadvantaged businesses owned by women, veterans, or minorities while also ensuring that the City of Toledo adheres to local, state, and federal regulations including wage laws and contract compliance rules.”

In the session, the city representatives introduced their streamlined bids and certifications processes, and demonstrated the new forecasting website and electronic payroll/ certification system.

Background on study

  • Toledo’s first disparity study was conducted by Griffin and Strong and completed in 2022
  • Study results were presented to City Council Committee of the Whole October 18, 2022
  • City engaged with Griffin and Strong to complete program implementation plan based on recommendations
  • Study covered firms in Toledo, Ohio Market Area (counties of Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood) over 2016 – 2020 (five years)
  • An analysis found that disparities by race, ethnicity, or gender of firm owners remained after controlling for capacity and other factors. Anecdotal findings supported this analysis.
  • Twelve recommendations were made for utilizing some race and gender conscious program elements in addition to race and gender-neutral efforts, such as monitoring prevailing wage.

Implementation Strategies
1. Contract by Contract Goals
2. Certification Process
3. Bonding Waivers
4. Prompt Pay
5. Contract Compliance
6. Purchasing Forecasts
7. Shared Support Services
8. Review and Reporting

The city representatives highlighted:

Small Business Program

  • Qualifications for the Small Business Program are based off of the SBA definition and the size standards adjusted to support and promote small businesses identified within our Toledo market area:
  • Company or office located within our Toledo Market Area
  • Less than $2 million annual revenue
  • Owners’ adjusted gross income does not exceed $250,000

Contract by Contract Goals
1. Calculation is determined based on specific scopes of services for each project and availability data collected by Griffin & Strong of certified M/WBEs in the Toledo Market Area
2. Local preference applied as outlined in TMC 187.34 to certified City of Toledo SBE subcontractors
stion Annual and Contract-by-Contract Aspirational Goals | Departments Contracting Department,

Certification Process
1. Combining MBE, WBE, and SBE into one application for certification
2. Certification available to firms with a location in Toledo Market Area
3. Reciprocal with other similar certifications
4. Reviewing current MBE and WBE firms for inclusion in the SBE program
5. Will only need to recertify every three years

With about 30 people in attendance many questions and concerns were raised regarding the program including how smaller firms can get larger projects, the progress of the program, how businesses will actually be held accountable to work with minority contractors, among others.

To learn more about the study