Ricardo Williams preparing for ‘How to do Business Series’

IN HIS ELEMENT—Ricardo J. Williams, Manager of the Equity and Inclusion for the City of Pittsburgh, discusses the upcoming City of Pittsburgh WBE How to do Business Series. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)

City’s equity manager wants to increase the vendor pipeline

Excited about the March 8 City of Pittsburgh Women Business Enterprise (WBE) How to do Business Series, Ricardo J. Williams says if it is anything like the previous two, then he expects nothing but positive outcomes for participating entrepreneurs.
The Third Annual How to Do Business Series, according to Williams, Manager of the Equity and Inclusion Office of Mayor Bill Peduto, is designed to educate, inform and connect vendors to current and future contract opportunities within their respective agencies while reducing the barriers of entry for women-owned businesses. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Carlow University A.J. Palumbo Hall for Science and Technology, 3333 Fifth Avenue. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
Held in collaboration with Carlow University, Williams classifies the How to do Business Series as an opportunity-driven event that will include practitioner-led workshops from business lending professionals, as well as subject matter experts in government procurement. “The City of Pittsburgh’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission and our stakeholders ultimately want to increase the vendor pipeline by providing the necessary resources for businesses to compete for future contract opportunities across the country,” he said.
Along with the City of Pittsburgh, the EORC and Carlow University, participating organizations expected to conduct workshops include the Sports and Exhibition Authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Housing Authority City of Pittsburgh, ALCOSAN, Callie and Associates, Huntington Bank, Chatham University Center for Entrepreneurship, The Mid-Atlantic Transportation Small Business Resource Center U.S. Department of Transportation, the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center U.S. Department of Commerce, Powerlink, and the DBE Supportive Services Center Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
The overall concept of the How to Do Business Series was developed based on the feedback that women business owners shared with the EORC in 2015 during a special roundtable discussion, according to Williams. Over 25 business owners from the construction and professional services industries participated in the focus group discussion. “As an immediate takeaway, we created a yearly event that educates, informs, and encourages networking between procurement officers and vendors.” The city’s interactive bid solicitation procurement product called Beacon was also launched when the mayor challenged staff, commissioners, and business owners to develop an outreach forum that would clearly explain the contract process and how to provide easier access for contract opportunities.
Williams pointed out that the EORC continues to expand their programmatic relationships and strategic alliances with community-based organizations, universities, city quasi-governmental authorities, county, state and federal government entities to create a variety of capacity-building resources for minorities, women and veterans who are interested in government contracting.
The EORC reviews and approves all applicable construction contracts for compliance with Chapter 161 of the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, as well as the contractor’s compliance with the City of Pittsburgh’s policies regarding minority and women business enterprise opportunities. It also develops policies regarding employment opportunities for minorities and women in contracting with the City of Pittsburgh and its authorities.
The Equity and Inclusion Office operates under the Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment Department. It’s responsible for the management of the EORC and staff to establish greater effectiveness in enhancing diversity in contracting opportunities and contract compliance for Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises for the City and its authorities. As manager of the department, Williams is a liaison for the Mayor’s Office to civil rights organizations, equity and diversity initiatives and the City of Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations.
The BNE, existing since 2014, is purposed to build the city’s low- and moderate-income neighborhoods from the ground up by addressing issues surrounding affordable and mixed-income housing, education and youth development, immigrant, veteran, LGBT and challenged populations, nonprofit and faith-based community initiatives, small business development, economic opportunity and equity and inclusion in the city.
Currently reshaping the procurement process of the city’s local departments and authorities, Williams says his position requires a commitment to advancing and setting the goals of the organization by communicating the vision to external departments, committees, community organizations and the small business community.
Williams considers himself a visionary, results-driven, successful community leader with proven ability to collaborate, design and deliver programs that have meaningful results for all people. He is the former executive director of the YMCA Homewood Branch, a 2015 graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh, a 2012 New Pittsburgh Courier Man of Excellence and has been recognized by the Eastern Minority Supplier Diversity Council as Resource Partner of the Year.
“March 8, our ultimate goal is to increase the vendor pipeline by providing the necessary resources for women businesses to compete for future contract opportunities across the country,” said Williams.
The event is free, but registration is required. Contact Emily Pontarelli at: emily.pontarelli@pittsburghpa.gov.
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