SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Almost one-quarter of the total value of construction contracts issued by the city of San Diego in the last fiscal year went to smaller, locally owned businesses -- many run by minorities and women, Mayor Jerry Sanders and other city officials announced Tuesday.
That's about double the previous year, and well above the 3 percent figure recorded in 2008, Sanders told reporters.
Figures released by the city in its Business Diversity Annual Report show that in the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2011, to June 30, small enterprises received $57.5 million of the total of $242.4 million in construction contracts awarded.
The mayor said it is important to expand opportunities for smaller businesses.
"For starters, it's a great investment in our future," Sanders said. "When small businesses are able to compete for city contracts, they have a better chance of building their expertise and developing their capacity locally."
When the companies expand, they hire local workers, Sanders said. It also levels the playing field for minorities, women and veterans, he said.
Debra Fischle-Faulk, director of the city's Administration Department, said changes to city contracting requirements, beginning in July 2010, drove the increases.
She said one of those changes was defining a small construction business as earning $5 million or less per year, which is less than state and federal guidelines. The other limits local businesses to being based in San Diego County, according to Fischle-Faulk.
"I've been doing this for so long that I've never really said we've been successful, we've always been behind the curve," Fischle-Faulk said. "I can say today that we've reached a level of success that we haven't seen, ever."
The business diversity report is scheduled to be presented to the City Council's Rules Committee on Wednesday.