St. Paul Reaches Out to Small Businesses

Like other local governments, the City of Saint Paul is a significant consumer of a wide range of goods and […]

Like other local governments, the City of Saint Paul is a significant consumer of a wide range of goods and services, and St. Paul wants to do more business with small businesses owned by or employing persons with disabilities. St. Paul is partnering with Kaposia, inc. of Saint Paul, a non-profit provider of community-based services for persons with disabilities and other challenges, to help small businesses owned by or employing people with disabilities become certified through the Vendor Outreach Program.

Though the sluggish economy has caused the City to temper its spending in recent years, the City still executes hundreds of contracts each year. In 2002, the total spending via contracts and the “small purchase” policy (i.e. not including Development Projects and utilities) was $73,611,043.

Small Business Assistance Efforts

Saint Paul’s elected officials have long believed in the value of including local small businesses in the public contracting process. In late 1976, the City adopted its first ordinance setting forth a policy for contracting with small and “economically disadvantaged” businesses. Over the years, that policy has evolved into the City’s current Vendor Outreach Program (VOP). This Program identifies a range of strategies to help businesses participate in solicitations for goods, services, supplies, and construction. These strategies include establishing goals for incorporating businesses owned by targeted groups (including women and minorities) into City construction and development projects, informational sessions on how to do business with the City, vendor presentations to City department staff, and outreach to various trade and small business associations. The Program is currently housed within the Contract and Analysis Services office.

How to Get Involved

Readers of Access Press who own and operate small businesses may be eligible to participate in the Vendor Outreach Program. Here are some recommended steps if you want to investigate the Program further.

Determine whether your product or service is one that the City is likely to use. Each year Contract and Analysis Services (CAS) publishes a “Top Commodities” list which provides a summary of the goods and services purchased in the most recent year, including dollar totals. This publication is free by calling the CAS office. The information is also posted on the CAS web site.

Register your business. If you determine that you have a product or a service that the City can use, you will need to get certified if you wish to participate in the Vendor Outreach Program. The certification process is used to help verify that your company meets VOP size, ownership, and other criteria. For more information about the certification process, contact the CAS office.

If you don’t want to go through the certification process, but want to be considered for City contracting opportunities, mail or fax a letter to the Contract and Analysis Services office asking to be added to the vendor database. Include specific information about what products or services you offer. This database is used to generate lists for upcoming solicitations.

Keep in Touch. Information about current and upcoming contracting opportunities is posted on the Contract and Analysis Services (CAS) web site (http://sprccontracts.ci.stpaul.mn.us). This is a good way to stay informed about opportunities. Questions about a particular bid or future contracts may be directed to the various buyers in the office. The main receptionist will direct your call to the appropriate person.

For further information about Saint Paul’s Vendor Outreach Program, copies of the “Top Commodities” publication or other information contact Contract and Analysis Service at (651) 266-890 or Fax (651) 266-8919, or visit the web at: http://sprccontracts.ci.stpaul.mn.us. Or contact Kaposia, inc., at (651) 224-6974, Fax (651) 224-7249, or visit the web at: www.kaposia.com.