Woman-owned firms' share of Cook County's bond and other business would increase to 10% from 5% under a proposed ordinance introduced last week.
Under the plan, proposed by county board president Richard Phelan, the overall goal for participation by minority and woman-owned firms in professional and consulting contracts would increase to 35% from 30%. Goals for other services would vary from 25% and 30%.
Woods Bowman, the country's chief financial officer, said a goal of 25% for minority-owned firms would stay in effect for bond deals.
The proposed increase in targets resulted from a recently completed study that finds that the country's procurement policies and actions by its contractors "have in the past posed significant barriers" to the participation of minority and woman-owned firms in county contracts.
The study, which was commissioned by the county, finds that participation by those firms has increased over the last two years since the Phelan administration took office. Still, the study concludes that the firms "continue to be at a competitive disadvantage" due to the "continuing effects of historical discrimination."
Phelan's proposal was referred to the county board's Contractual general obligation bond program of at least $750 million for improvements to correctional and health-care facilities. In addition, the county is reviewing the possibility of replacing its main hospital. If the decision is made to build a new facility, Bowman said costs would run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.