State Sets Record for Spend With Diversity Businesses

Monday, December 28, 2020 | 10:00am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The State of Tennessee spent a record $739 million with small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities, or service-disabled veterans in 2019-20. This is an increase of 11% from the old record set just the previous year.

The new figures appear in the annual report of the Governor’s Office of Diversity Business Enterprise (Go-DBE), a unit of the Central Procurement Office in the Department of General Services (DGS).

“This would be a notable accomplishment in any year, but when one considers the disruptive effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s business sector in 2020, it’s really a remarkable achievement by our Go-DBE team,” said Chief Procurement Officer Mike Perry.  “With so many American businesses facing serious fiscal pressures from the pandemic, we’re proud that Tennessee has been able to increase its expenditures with small businesses and businesses with diversity ownership, which are typically seen as particularly vulnerable.”

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and our state is committed to supporting them—especially those owned by minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and service-disabled veterans,” said Governor Bill Lee.  “In a year where COVID-19 has created an uphill battle for many of our small businesses, we are proud that the state of Tennessee has been able to increase its work with diversity-owned businesses.”

Go-DBE was created in 2003 to expand economic opportunities for small businesses and businesses owned by minorities or women (diversity businesses).  The Tennessee legislature has since expanded the program’s role to include creating opportunities for service-disabled veterans and persons with disabilities.

Other highlights of the annual report:

  • 2,087 of the state’s 243,665 registered suppliers are certified by the Go-DBE program.
  • 15.7% of state spend went to these certified suppliers, who constitute 0.86% of total state suppliers.
  • Reflecting Tennessee’s efforts to expand economic opportunities in rural counties, the state spent more than $57 million with rural certified businesses in 2019-20.
  • Although there have been numerous small businesses closures this year due to the pandemic, the number of certified businesses still increased 6.5% from last year, reflecting aggressive efforts by Go-DBE staff to contact eligible businesses, Perry said.

This year’s annual report contains a special tribute to Shelia J. Simpson, director of the Go-DBE program from 2004 until her death this summer. 

“Achieving a record spend among diverse businesses would notable no matter the year, but it’s especially momentous this year to know these businesses received it when they may have needed it most,” said DGS Commissioner Christi W. Branscom. “My hope is that these expenditures honor Shelia Simpson and the impact she made on the Go-DBE program.”

The annual report is available for download online here.