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Keep up to date with the evolving world of government bidding with tips, best practices, trends, research and observations. Let BidNet's knowledge and experience work for you.

For Minority and Women Owned Businesses, Minneapolis is a Great Place to Bid on City Contracts


For Minority and Women Owned Businesses, Minneapolis is a Great Place to Bid on City Contracts

One half of what is known as the “Twin Cities,” alongside the city of St. Paul, Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota and home to more than 400,000 people. The city is a vital link to the economy primarily because the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is the second-largest economic center in the Midwest after Chicago.

Doing Business with the City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis’ procurement division is in charge of procuring goods and services for city departments and the Park Board, as well as other boards associated with the city; the Contract Management Office is in charge of the administration of city contracts. In order to do business with the city, interested vendors must submit a Vendor Enrollment Application as well as a W-9 form. Along with the application, the city requires all interested vendors to acknowledge they have read and agree to the City of Minneapolis Procurement and Conflict of Interest Policy.

Vendors who are interested in receiving notifications about open bids and RFPs can request to be added to the city’s Bidders List.[i] Keep in mind that even if you are placed on the bidders list you may not receive every bid that is posted, especially if you provide products or services that an agency doesn’t know about. It’s a good idea to explain to the city exactly what your business offers, so that they know what contracts will be of interest to you.

Small Underutilized Business Program

The Small Underutilized Business Program (SUBP) was created to assist minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) compete for government opportunities and contracts. To help these types of businesses succeed, the city’s Contract Compliance Division (CCD) sets contract award goals based on the scope of work of a contract; the availability of MWBEs to do the work; and any subcontracting opportunities available in a contract. These goals are defined as follows, each of which incorporates a MWBE contracting requirement:

        • Contracts valued over $400,000 for goods, commodities and supplies
        • Contracts valued over $100,000 for construction and development
        • Contracts valued over $100,000 for professional or technical services

Any contracts valued below these thresholds do not have MWBE goals that must be met.  Also, no goals will be set for a particular contract if there is a limited number or no MWBEs available to perform the work, or if a subcontracting opportunity doesn’t exist in the contract. [ii]

MWBE Qualifications

There are certain criteria an MWBE needs to meet in order to comply with SUBP goals:

        • At the time the contract is executed, the business must be certified as an MWBE under the Minnesota Unified Certification Program.
        • The MWBE must be located within the city’s marketplace, which includes the counties of Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Washington and Wright.
        • The MWBE needs to be certified with the listed NAICS codes that relate to the scope of work of the project.
        • The MWBE must be responsible for actually performing the work. This means managing and supervising the work involved, as well as performing or exercising responsibility for at least 30 percent of the contract with the business’ own workforce. However, the business is allowed to subcontract the work based on “normal industry practices.”

(Source: Minneapolismn.gov. Department of Civil rights. Contract Compliance Division. Small Underutilized Business Program (SUBP). 2017. Web. 20 Jan. 2017)

Good Faith Efforts to Meet SUBP Goals

According to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, a vendor who bids on a city contract must try and meet the SUBP goals. If they are unable to meet the goals, they must show that they made a “good faith” effort to comply with the requirements. To make sure vendors have in fact solicited MWBEs in good faith, the CCD will conduct a review. The following is a list of actions the CCD will consider during its review.

        • Vendors must solicit for MWBEs through all reasonable means, whether through advertising, notices, or pre-bid meetings, and must do so in a timely manner, meaning they must allow the MWBE to have sufficient time to respond to a bid.
        • In order to make sure project goals are achieved, the bidder must break down the contract work and determine who will complete each task, therefore guaranteeing MWBE participation.
        • The vendor must provide adequate information about the contract work in a timely manner to the interested MWBEs - including plans, specifications and requirements of the contract - in order for the MWBE to respond to the bid in time.
        • The bidder must provide written documentation that they negotiated in good faith with interested MWBEs. In considering if the bidder negotiated in good faith the CCD may look at a number of factors including price, scheduling and capabilities.
        • Bidders may not argue that project goals were not met due to additional costs associated with finding and using a MWBE.
        • Bidders must help MWBEs obtain bonding, lines of credit or insurance as required by the city if the MWBE requests help and only if the bidder is not responsible for providing financial assistance in order to obtain these requirements.
        • As allowed on a case-by-case basis, bidders may use services such as MWBE community organizations, contractor groups, or state, local and federal business assistance offices to help solicit for MWBEs.
        • The CCD will monitor the participation of the MWBE throughout the contract term; failure to meet the requirements will result in a breach of contract.

(Source: Minneapolismn.gov. Department of Civil rights. Contract Compliance Division. Small Underutilized Business Program (SUBP). 2017. Web. 20 Jan. 2017)

The city of Minneapolis knows how important it is for small businesses and MWBEs to have opportunities to compete in the government contracting market. This is why the city operates programs to help these businesses get certified, to guide them through the bidding process and to make sure other vendors make an effort to use small businesses and MWBEs as subcontractors on government contracts. If your business can be certified as a small, minority, woman owned or veteran owned business, consider finding out more about what the city can provide in terms of assistance and apply to join the city’s SUBP program. It can give you an advantage when bidding on any type of contract.  

Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com



[i] n.p. Minneapolismn.gov. Procurement. Vendor Enrollment Process. 2017. Web. 20 Jan. 2017

[ii] n.p. Minneapolismn.gov. Department of Civil rights. Contract Compliance Division. Small Underutilized Business Program (SUBP). 2017. Web. 20 Jan. 2017

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Keep up to date with the evolving world of government bidding with tips, best practices, trends, research and observations. Let BidNet’s knowledge and experience work for you.

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