Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 74.18
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Nov. 30, 2012
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.1

Columbia University
OP-T2-25: Local Businesses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.25 / 0.25 Robert Hornsby
Assistant Vice President for Media Relations
Communications and Public Affairs
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Does the institution give preference to local products and businesses in its purchasing decisions? Local food purchases, which are covered in OP Credit 6: Food Purchasing, are not included in this credit.:

A brief description of the program:

Columbia University Purchasing supports efforts to conduct business with community-based entities through a Minority, Women, and Local (MWL) initiative. This initiative seeks to provide opportunities to local businesses for the purchase or goods and services where practical and economically feasible. This effort is furthered through primary University contracts and local requirements outlined in Requests for Proposals (RFP)’s issued by the University.

Columbia University has one of the highest goals of any institution in New York with an established commitment to spend 35 percent of our construction dollars with MWL contractors and to have MWL workers comprise at least 40 percent of our construction workforce. These aggressive goals are supported by several initiatives such as:
A Community Benefits Agreement was implemented by Columbia University and the City of New York that places a preference on the hiring of local and minority contractors and workers in West Harlem by Columbia as part of the Manhattanville campus expansion.

For construction work and laborers, the University has defined local as the zip codes generally associated with the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and the four zip codes associated with the South Bronx. For goods and services to be purchased, the University has defined local as the five boroughs of New York City. One example of the University’s focus has been the construction mentorship program described below:

Columbia University / Corporate Alliance Program MWL Construction Mentorship Program
Columbia University and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) launched the Minority-, Women-, and Locally-owned (MWL) Construction Trades Management Certificate/Mentorship Program to help MWL businesses build capacity and earn contracting opportunities at the University. Program partners included The Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which provides technical services to MWL firms, and Columbia University's School of Continuing Education, which oversees the program's academic portion and administers certificates of completion to mentees after fulfilling their first year. Since the inception of the program in 2008, 53 of the participating firms have been awarded Columbia and City contracts totaling over $60 million.

Columbia University in association with the Harlem Chamber of Commerce sponsored the Harlem Week “Economic Development Day” by providing the venue for economic discussion sessions, a trade show of local community vendors and lunch for over 200 participants.

Columbia University places a preference on doing business with local contractors and our construction contracts read: “The Contracting Party is required to provide maximum practicable opportunities to achieve an overall M/W/LBE participation of 35% of the total dollar value of the Contract, with a preference to maximize local participation.”

MWL Meet and Greets
Each month Columbia University Facilities invites up to four MWL contractors to come in and meet with construction executives. The meetings are the result of internal discussions on the trades and or/services currently needed in Capital Projects Management, Operations, Manhattanville and Columbia University Medical Center construction portfolios. After each meeting, Columbia determines if the firm has the capacity and experience to perform the needed work and if so, include them in upcoming bid opportunities.

Local Architect Meetings
Columbia University has arranged meeting with groups of local architects to help them to understand how to do business with the university, better understand their capabilities and determine if there might be a fit for future design needs at the University. In all 17 firms participated in the meetings. To date Columbia has provided four design contracts to the architects in the group.

MWL Information Sessions
The University hosts information sessions that have been attended by over 250 minority-, women- and locally-owned (MWL) construction firms in the last year to learn about upcoming bid opportunities at Columbia University's Manhattanville Campus development, opportunities to participate in summer projects, and information on opportunities to become prequalified to work on a construction project at 3595 Broadway. These businesses had the chance to meet the construction managers and project team members working on the development and to speak with representatives from New York City business assistance organizations.

Columbia University Targeted Local Purchasing Initiatives
Columbia University established a fast track rapid results program to support local purchasing within targeted commodities available within the local community that meet University requirements including cleaning / janitorial supplies, and temporary staffing. The program consists of identifying potential local suppliers, qualifying local businesses that can meet University needs, matching local business offerings with University departmental purchasing decision makers, and developing a resource guide for local businesses who may need further capacity building and technical assistance from University partners like the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center.

Moreover, Columbia University facilitates and fosters partnerships between local businesses and Columbia University’s integrated supplier partners where the University’s large preferred vendors source goods and services from local businesses. The integrated partners report to Columbia University on their efforts to use local businesses as part of their contractual obligations. These partnerships between local businesses and University integrated supplier partners not only provide opportunities for local businesses to meet Columbia University purchasing needs, but also allow local businesses to develop relationships with other clients of the integrated supplier partners, and even provide local businesses with more attractive pricing on their required supplies working with the integrated partners’ national suppliers.

In addition, Columbia University hosts information and matchmaking sessions for local businesses and University departmental purchasing decision makers that includes vendor fairs, and targeted sessions for specific goods and services like caterers, florists and event venue providers. The hosted sessions provide information to local businesses on how to do business with the University, and engage University personnel to purchase from local businesses and provide status on meeting the University’s local purchasing goals.

Likewise, Columbia University participated in the Corporate Alliance Coaching Program sponsored by the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS). This pilot program was a nine month engagement where University personnel mentored a local business targeting on development goals to improve the local business’ performance.

Furthermore, Columbia University has a flex card program where students, faculty, and staff can use their University ID card to purchase personal items through a declining balance account. Columbia University has partnered with a number of local businesses to accept the flex card program including local drug stores, school supply stores, home furnishing providers, grocery stores, restaurants, hardware stores and other miscellaneous service providers.

Also, Columbia University established a small business concerns policy where small businesses have the maximum practicable opportunity to provide goods and services to the University. For federal contracts received by the University over a certain dollar threshold requires a formal subcontracting plan that includes sourcing activity with small businesses. The University attempts to source local businesses to meet the small business goals outlined in the subcontracting plans.

Additional URLs:

The website URL where information about the program, policy, or practice is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.