By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Are you a local, small, minority-owned, or woman-owned business? The Port of Seattle wants you.
In an effort to address equity in Port contracting, the Port of Seattle Commission adopted Resolution 3737 in January to increase the utilization of women and minority business enterprise (WMBE) firms.
“Women or minority business” means a business that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by women and/or minority including, but not limited to, Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos.
A 2012 Port of Seattle study showed a disparity in utilization of minority contractors in airport construction and construction-related projects. The Port of Seattle Commission held three community outreach meetings in 2017 to get input on how to improve.
“We want more diversity in our contracting,” said Mian Rice, the Port’s small business development director.
The Port of Seattle has been successful in increasing small business utilization since the implementation of the Century Agenda in 2012, which included small business goals. The Port has reached almost 30 percent of total dollars spent on small business contracts.
The goal now is to triple the number of WMBE firms doing business with the Port of Seattle, and increase to 15 percent the percentage of dollars spent on WMBE contracts by the year 2023.
“We’re getting more granular in our approach,” said Rice. “Instead of small businesses, we’re focusing on WMBE firms.”
Rice said the Port is adjusting its Request For Proposals and construction contracts to reflect its desire to have more WBME participation.
The Diversity in Contracting Program strives to provide a more receptive environment for the utilization of WMBE firms, and to ensure that businesses and contractors of all tiers working on Port contracts and subcontracts utilize WMBE firms, wherever feasible or as required.
Since the passing of Resolution 3737, Rice said he has seen a lot more interest from WBME businesses.
“A lot of WBME firms now feel like they have a chance at being a partner in our projects,” Rice said.
On Oct. 11, the Port of Seattle announced two brand new restaurants that will open on new mezzanine dining levels in 2020.
Salty’s at the SEA and BrewTop Social and The Mariners Homeplate & Dugout Bar were selected following an open and competitive bidding and evaluation process — both ownership groups include small, locally-owned, and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBE).
ACDBE is a federal program, whereas the Diversity in Contracting Program deals with state contracts.
But their goals are similar — to level the playing field for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.
When The Mariners Homeplate & Dugout Bar and Salty’s at the SEA and BrewTop Social open, the Port of Seattle says there will be more women and minority-owned businesses operating at Sea-Tac than ever before.
“This is a huge step for the Port of Seattle,” Rice said about the Diversity in Contracting Program.
“The port is not a small entity and while change won’t happen overnight, we are pointed and headed in the right direction.”
To sign up for contracting opportunities, view bid opportunities, or other information, go to: portseattle.org/business/bid-opportunities.
To view the Port’s procurement and roster management system, go to
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.