County ordinance provides model for social enterprise procurement

Mar 01, 2018 No Comments by

The Cook County Board in Chicago recently enacted the Cook County Social Enterprise Ordinance to promote the growth of local social enterprises and inspire other municipalities in Illinois and beyond to follow its lead. Eligible entities get a 5% pricing discount in bidding for County procurement opportunities (meaning a $100 bid is treated as $95.)

The ordinance defines social enterprises as for-profits and nonprofits with earned revenue from a business that’s addressing a social problem through its products or services and/or employment of disadvantaged individuals.

To qualify, social enterprise bidders are also required to have their principal place of business and a majority of their regular, full-time workers located in the “County Marketplace,” defined as Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties.

“Disadvantaged” is broadly defined as people who are mentally, physically or economically disadvantaged. This includes people living below the poverty line, people receiving welfare assistance, people with criminal records, people with disabilities, people with substance use disorder, gang-involved youth, and elderly people who require hospice care.

The procurement ordinance was an initiative of the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation, a County government agency that develops actionable social policy recommendations for consideration by the Cook County Board. Maria Kim, President & CEO of Alliance member Cara, serves on the Commission and chairs its Committee on Human Capital.

One goal of the Commission is to tap into the buying power of universities, museums, hospitals and other institutional anchors to spark economic development and opportunities that reduce poverty. It is hoped that the new ordinance will also encourage socially-minded buyers in the private sector to consider sourcing from mission-driven businesses.


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