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St. Pete to consider boosting LGBTQ small business contracts

“The city is committed to providing all business owners with equal opportunities to compete and succeed.”

The city of St. Petersburg is taking steps to increase the number of LGBTQ-owned businesses it contracts with.

Next week St. Pete City Council will consider an ordinance enhancing business partnerships with majority-owned or -operated LGBTQ businesses.

“The city of St. Petersburg is committed to providing all business owners, including historically underrepresented business owners, with equal opportunities to compete and succeed, and is committed to increasing the number and diversity of supplier options,” the ordinance reads.

The measure, scheduled for City Council’s June 6 meeting, would require city staff to monitor usage of LGBTQ-owned businesses in its procurement process for goods and services.

The city already has anti-discriminatory policies and ordinances protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination in employment and through its procurement process, but the latest equality measure seeks to further that by affording additional opportunities to win contracts for city work.

The city contracts with businesses for work ranging from construction to catering.

In addition to monitoring usage of LGBTQ-owned or operated businesses, the city would also recognize those businesses similarly to those owned or operated by women or minorities.

The ordinance stops short of requiring LGBTQ business inclusion in city projects. However, such requirements are typically included individually through the ‘request for proposal’ or ‘request for qualification’ process.

In its proposed ordinance, the city would also provide LGBTQ-owned small businesses “with training programs and services to ensure businesses are familiar with how to do business with the city and are informed about procurement opportunities.

The ordinance takes effect upon its approval.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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