Mayor's Office

Press Release

City of Houston Recognizes Minority/Small Businesses at First Annual Awards Event
Former Council Member, City Department & Community Partners Honored

 

 

December 4, 2013 -- Mayor Annise Parker presented the City of Houston’s first Champion of Diversity Award to the late City Council Member Ernest B. McGowen, Sr. who was chiefly responsible for pioneering the legislation and subsequent passage of the ordinance that established the City of Houston’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program 29 years ago, at yesterday’s first annual award ceremony hosted by the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity Advisory Board. The event honored City of Houston prime contractors and certified minority, women and small business enterprises that work on the city’s contracts, as well as the City of Houston’s Department of Neighborhoods that is responsible for awarding more than 70 percent of its contracts to certified firms. In addition, Capital One Bank was named Community Partner of the Year for its role in creating and partnering with the City on various initiatives designed to educate and grow small businesses.

 

The Champion of Diversity award was also renamed the Ernest B. McGowen, Sr. Champion Award in honor of Mr. McGowen. The award was accepted by his wife, Mrs. Jewell McGowen, and his children.

 

“Ernest’s legacy to this City has been paramount to the empowerment of minority and women-owned businesses. His contributions are immeasurable,” said Mayor Parker. “I strongly believe that his leadership and vision has contributed to the City of Houston’s diversity and thriving business economy.”

 

“These award recipients have been true champions in exemplifying their commitment, excellence, and support to OBO’s mission and the City’s supplier diversity program,” said Alicia Jimerson, OBO Advisory Board Chair.

 

Other named award recipients were Industrial TX Corporation, T. Construction, LLC., Lockwood Andrews & Newnam, Inc., United Engineers, Inc., Comfort Systems USA (South Central), and  Milam Street Auto Storage, Inc.

 

“Access to contracting opportunities and job creations has been paramount to Mayor Parker’s vision, which is in line with the more than $800 million in contracts that have been awarded to certified minority, women and small businesses under her administration,” said Carlecia D. Wright, Director of the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity. “The awardees tonight are among the many businesses that work on City contracts that help fulfill our mission.”

 

About the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity
The City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity’s mission is to create a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston and to promote the growth and success of local and small businesses, with a special emphasis on historically underutilized businesses, by ensuring their meaningful participation in the government procurement process.

 

The City of Houston’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program (MWBE) was established in 1984 as a means to stimulate the growth of local minority and women business enterprises by encouraging their participation in all phases of procurement activities.  The Program’s enactment afforded MWBEs a full and fair opportunity to compete for all City contracts.  Small Business Enterprises and Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprises were later included as a part of the City’s programs to further contracting opportunities for underutilized businesses. The policy governing the City’s M/W/S/PDBE Programs was renewed in 2013 to ensure transparency, accountability and sustainability. Since the program’s inception, businesses have been awarded more than $5 billion.

 

For more information about OBO, visit www.houstontx.gov/obo.

 

About the Office of Business Opportunity Advisory Board
Mayor Annise D. Parker established the Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) Advisory Board in 2012, as part of the City of Houston Boards and Commissions.  In an effort to seek private sector assistance in easing difficulties that may be encountered by Minority, Women, Small and Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprises in accessing City contracts, and to improve communication among these businesses, non-MWBEs and the City, the OBO Advisory Board ensures visibility of the Office of Business Opportunity and its associated programs among a variety of stakeholders and interested parties.  The Board supports outreach and recruitment efforts for the City of Houston.

 

To learn more about Boards and Commissions, visit www.houstontx.gov/boards/.

 

About Council Member Ernest B. McGowen, Sr.
The late Council Member was the first African-American elected to the Houston City Council after single-member districts were created.  Elected in 1979, as the representative for District B, Council Member McGowen advocated for equal economic opportunities in the City of Houston.  He fought diligently to stimulate the growth of local minority and women-owned businesses by working to ensure their participation in the bidding process for contracts.  As a result of the late Council Member’s leadership and vision, the City of Houston’s MWBE Program affords minorities and women-owned businesses a full and fair opportunity to compete for all City of Houston contracts.  The City’s program is viewed as one of the best diversity programs in the country; responsible for more than $5 billion in awards to certified firms.