The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System believes in serving the holistic needs of the children and communities it serves.
This means opening new doors to learning, accelerating academic achievement and employing minority, women and small business owners to deliver essential services.
"We feel our suppliers should be as diverse as our student population," said Chiquitha Lloyd, Minority/Women/Small Business Enterprise Program administrator for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. "It's very important for us to have an inclusive policy in place. My office monitors and assists schools in finding diverse suppliers and monitoring how we spend those dollars."
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is one of at least two public school systems in the state that has a designated professional on staff to ensure that economic inclusion is more than a notion. The school system has a database of more than 1,500 suppliers, 400 to 700 of whom may be actively working on a variety of goods and service contracts and construction-related projects at any given time, depending on the system's procurement and construction cycle.
Lloyd also puts policy into practice by working with NCIMED to notify minority, women and small business owners about construction-related opportunities.
"NCIMED is one of our valued strategic partners who assist in the notification process," said Lloyd, who is also chairwoman of the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council. "It is how we get the word out about the various bid opportunities and how minority suppliers can compete for projects. You may have as many as 35 to 40 different packages within one project they can bid on."
NCIMED clients have access to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' building plans through the Construction Resource Centers of North Carolina. These NCIMED-run centers offer services and support to help small, minority and women-owned businesses identify and compete for construction-related projects. Its Construction Plan Rooms enable NCIMED clients to review and copy construction plans for current projects and use estimating software to prepare bids and an online database of current bid opportunities.
Metcon, a long-time and distinguished NCIMED client, was recently awarded a contract to build a new $21 million elementary school for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The school is expected to be completed by fall 2015.
For Lloyd, it's not only about hiring minority suppliers, it's about ensuring the value and integrity of the program by setting aspirational goals for participation and engaging contractors and subcontractors. Performance measures are based on community engagement, overall diverse supplier utilization in dollars and percent, year-over-year percent increase, notification of opportunities, internal/external program compliance and capacity-building activities.
"It's a way for us to provide needed jobs in the community," Lloyd said. "We are here to support families holistically, and that means employing those families and providing jobs for them within the community."