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Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) Initiative

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Creating fair, equal, and equitable access to public and private contracts in Chicago

The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) supports and advocates for our small business ecosystem by creating robust initiatives and programs that targets minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs), assisting their increased participation in economic development and government contracting.

The Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE) Initiative:

  • Serves as an essential component to help develop, strengthen, and advocate for Chicago's minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) supplier community.
  • Cultivates a competitive and diverse economic environment that drives equitable access to contracts and supports growth for success.
  • Increases equal access to supplier contracts that results in closing the racial, ethnic and wealth gaps for M/WBE business suppliers in Chicago.
  • Serves as an advocacy to promote fair and equitable access to contracting, capital, business and technical assistance.

EDGE: Initiative Information


Through partnerships with our local chambers of commerce, non-for-profit community, neighborhood business development service centers and business services organizations, the program provides trainings, workshops, counseling, and mentorship resources to assist entrepreneurs, small business owners and professional service firms prepare for the successful participation in public and private contracting.

EDGE: Supplier Development Program


The EDGE: Supplier Development Program will provide targeted support to small businesses interested in contracting with the City of Chicago.  

The program will include weekly group trainings, 1:1 individual counseling, and industry specific assistance. Capacity-building services to be provided are:  

  • Accessing Capital 
  • Bonding and Insurance 
  • Business Planning/Strategies 
  • Understanding Contracting Fundamentals 
  • Estimating and Bidding 
  • Finance and Financial Management 
  • Financing to Scale Business Operations 
  • Finding Contracting Opportunities
  • Understanding Government Contracting
  • Human Resources 
  • Marketing and Sales 
  • How to Obtain M/WBE Certification 
  • Project Management

 Programming concluded in December 2023. Keep an eye on this website for future supplier development opportunities.


RFP Opportunities

EDGE Supplier Development Program
Closed on Thursday, June 8, 2023, at 11:59 AM CDT
RFP #9514 PDF Copy (for reference use only)


In 2021, legal consulting firm Colette Holt & Associates was retained to perform a disparity study for The City of Chicago regarding its Minority- and Women-Owned (“M/WBE) Business Enterprise Construction Program. The study was designed to review The City’s policies and procedures regarding the implementation of race and gender conscious programming, to provide recommendations for program improvements, and to implement current national best practices.

Based on research, contract and procurement spending during the years 2015 through 2019, totaling approximately $1.55B were awarded to prime contractors. Businesses considered M/WBE and “socially disadvantaged” under the City’s ordinance, prime contractors’ utilization of subcontractors was 54.2 percent. Out of that percentage, 7.7 percent were Black-owned, 17.1 percent Hispanic-owned, 16.4 percent Asian-owned, 0.0 percent Native American-owned, and 13.0 percent White woman-owned. The other 45.9 percent were non-M/WBE owned businesses. The study found that M/WBEs are much more reliant on subcontracts compared to non-M/WBEs. For Black, Hispanic, and White woman-owned firms, over 90 percent of their work is as subcontractors. In contrast, for non-M/WBE-owned firms, just under 73 percent of their work is as subcontractors.