This report, by the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College is an investigation into possibilities for strengthening the system of connections and contracts between local vendors and institutional procurers in Central Brooklyn today, gained from interviews with anchor institutions and M/WBE vendors alike.
Despite an economy which is officially booming, communities of color and minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs), particularly those that are Black-owned, often struggle in New York City. This is especially the case in Brooklyn, which is a hotbed of both increasing business development and intense gentrification and displacement of Black and Latinx communities. This is troubling for many reasons, especially since the MWBE category was designed to bring recognition and support to communities unfairly excluded from a critical source of economic activity: government procurement and contracting. Yet there is hope because the number of MWBEs is increasing, and institutions such as hospitals, universities, and libraries that possess considerable buying power are located amidst these same communities and are ready to engage. Indeed, the “anchor model” framework was designed as a way for these large scale institutions that provide crucial public services to reflect on the ways their employment and procurement practices can support local communities.
This white paper was born of years of work done by community organizations and healthcare institutions to create a wellness-based development framework. As Interfaith Medical Center was threatened with closure, the Coalition to Transform Interfaith fought to build wellness at scale through the restructuring of the institution. That coalition first saw anchor institution procurement as a possible driver for scaling economic transformation inspired by the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative. Since then, a base of local stakeholders has grown to support a vision of development based in community wellness. This paper, focusing on opportunities for and barriers to local MWBE procurement at anchor institutions in Central Brooklyn, is one piece in a step to achieve that vision.