One of the Federal Reserve’s mandates is to boost employment opportunities using the agency’s power to raise or lower interest rates.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is also taking a more direct approach.
The Fed's year-old Office of Minority and Women Inclusion recently met with the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) in Minneapolis to see about doing more business with local women and minority-owned businesses.
MEDA, comprised of hundreds of such businesses, is in a unique position to spread the word and get more members bidding on Fed supply contracts.
The Minneapolis Fed employs more than 900 workers and buys goods from hundreds of contractors and suppliers. Currently about 5 percent of those contracts go to firms owned by women and 18 percent go to businesses owned by people of color. The Fed wants to increase those numbers and expand its vendor pool in accordance with a White House initiative, said MEDA spokeswoman Jan Jordet.
In a newsletter e-mailed to members Thursday, MEDA officials noted that the bank already "buys all the typical things a corporation buys, including" toilet paper, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, and construction services. Many MEDA members are in such businesses and could participate in the bidding process. New contracts can lead to expansion and hiring, officials said.
MEDA advised members to start by registering with the Fed as a vendor.
"The first step to participate in its procurement process is to use the bank's vendor registration portal. To be considered, prospective suppliers should use the self-registration tool," which can be found at http://www.minneapolisfed.org/procurement/index.cfm.
The 40-year-old MEDA works with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce and 600 business owners to provide accounting services, business development and loans to minority-owned businesses across the state in an effort to enhance profitability and employment. MEDA currently has a $1.2 million loan fund and recently received $500,000 in new small-business lending funds from the U.S. Treasury.