University of Illinois to review diversity plan for vendors

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Trustees for the University of Illinois are set to review a proposal that would boost its goals for doing business with companies owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities. | AP file photo

Trustees for the University of Illinois are set to review a proposal that would boost its goals for doing business with companies owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities.

The proposal would also set a goal of awarding 3 percent of state contracts to small businesses owned by military veterans and disabled veterans, the News-Gazette reported.

The changes would bring the targets in line with recent changes in Illinois’ Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act. The new guidelines increased goals for businesses owned by minorities and women from 10 percent to 20 percent of total spending for construction projects, matching the 20 percent goal for non-construction contracts.

The goal for the university’s Chicago campus would be 30 percent for construction projects, the same as the city of Chicago.

Trustees will review the proposal next week.

UI’s spending on construction contracts with firms covered by Illinois’ Business Enterprise Program has doubled since fiscal 2013, up to $44.8 million in fiscal 2016. UI Office of Procurement Diversity director Sharla Roberts said the jump can mainly be attributed to contracts for the State Farm Center project.

Trustee and longtime Chicago attorney James Montgomery said equal access to contracts is critical to the community.

“The most degrading problem in this country is the lack of opportunity for minority professionals and businesses,” he said. “Having been one for 60 years, the game is not completely even in that respect.”

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