The Cook County Board of Commissioners last week approved a 5% increase in the participation by woman-owned firms in the county's professional and consulting contracts, including those for bond-related business.

Woods Bowman, the county's chief financial officer, said the board set a goal of 10% for woman-owned firms, compared to the 5% goal that was previously in effect.

A goal of 25% will remain intact for minority-owned firms, Bowman said. The board also approved required percentages for minority and woman-owned firms' participation in other nonprofessional contracts.

Richard Phelan, the president of the board, recommended the increase last month after a study concluded that the county'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.

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