Easthampton pledges more inclusive public procurement practices

  • Easthampton Municipal Building GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/19/2021 7:50:50 PM
Modified: 12/19/2021 7:50:36 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city has pledged to make public contracting more accessible for small, women- and minority-led businesses by helping to break down barriers that companies face when doing business with Easthampton.

In 2020, Easthampton was selected to be part of the City Innovation Ecosystem program by the National League of Cities. The program was designed to drive regional entrepreneurship and innovation by establishing community partnerships and commitments that will help cities to better understand the components of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, and develop consensus on what a successful environment should look like in the respective participating cities. The program, made possible in partnership with and support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, also works to help cities adopt policies, programs and practices to give underrepresented entrepreneurs more opportunities for economic advancement.

Now in its third year, Easthampton is part of a network of more than 150 cities in the City Innovation Ecosystem program.

As part of the program, participants select an area of focus to support economic growth in their communities. In Easthampton’s case, the city has selected inclusive public procurement with aims to reduce barriers to obtaining city contracts for businesses owned by communities with disparate rates of success. Increasing the city’s engagement with entrepreneurs of color is critical, said City Councilor Lindsey Rothschild.

“As we know, there is no justice without economic justice,” said Rothschild in a statement. “With the support and resources of the League of Cities, we have the opportunity to put our focus and attention to first understanding the barriers to participation in our procurement process and then to take action to remove those barriers.”

From now to February, Rothschild and Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle will be identifying strategies with the help of City Hall staff to put “actionable steps” in place, said LaChapelle. The steps need to be put in place by September 2022 as required by the National League of Cities grant.

Earlier this month, LaChapelle said she worked with the National League of Cities in 2018 to create Blueprint Easthampton, an effort to research, map out and support the city’s economy and regional innovation. Partnering with the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, she said, is about generating wealth and creating equality for local people from marginalized communities. The LGBT chamber’s expansion, she said, “is a very exciting moment for Easthampton that’s been long coming.”

By participating in the City Innovation Ecosystem program, Easthampton will receive direct technical assistance, information sharing with other cities, and financial support to help implement its program. Technical assistance will be provided by the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab.

“I look forward to working with new members of the City Innovation Ecosystems program to bring their commitments to fruition and create economies in which everyone wins.” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities in a statement.

“Leaders of America’s cities, towns, and villages recognize that racial and gender equity are key ingredients to economic growth in communities,” Anthony said.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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