Highlights

Coalition of Illinois Utilities Opens Doors for Diverse Suppliers in 2017

CHICAGO -- Charter members of the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council (IUBDC) spent a combined total of more than $1.25 billion on goods and services provided by minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses in 2017, a 7.8% increase over the prior year. IUBDC was formed in 2015 to increase business opportunities for diverse suppliers through closer collaboration, technical development and sharing of best practices among Illinois leading utilities. IUBDC members include Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Illinois American Water, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and Peoples Gas.

"These results demonstrate that our companies are opening doors for more diverse businesses to participate in utility supply chains," said Richard J. Mark, chairman of the IUBDC Board of Directors, and chairman and president of Ameren Illinois. "Partnering with diverse suppliers is not only good for business, it contributes to stronger local and regional economies."

Mark cited the landmark Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), or "Smart Grid Bill," enacted in 2011, and the Natural Gas Consumer, Safety & Reliability Act, enacted in 2013, as catalysts for growth in utility spending with diverse suppliers. Under these programs, Illinois' natural gas and electric utilities are undertaking a massive upgrade to the state's aging energy delivery infrastructure, installing new technologies and equipment to reduce outages, improve reliability, and provide customers with programs to manage and save energy. In addition, Illinois American Water is investing in modernization of the water distribution system, replacing aging mains, and upgrading well stations.

"We're proud that more diverse suppliers than ever are providing IUBDC members with the high quality equipment, technology, and business support services we need to execute these important infrastructure projects," Mark said.

Contributing to the increase in diverse-supplier procurement was the formation of a Prime Partner Institute to increase utilization of diverse businesses throughout the supply chain. In 2017, the Council held three targeted events to engage prime (Tier 1) contractors with potential sub-contractors. These efforts were recognized by the Women's Business Development Council, which awarded IUBDC with its 2017 Future Forward Award.

Other resources IUBDC is developing include a supplier registration and mapping tool to provide procurement specialists with insights into the availability of diverse supplier resources, and a training library to provide diverse suppliers with a one-stop location for insights on IUBDC-member procurement processes. The IUBDC has worked to develop and strengthen partnerships and collaboration with key associations such as the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus and the Women's Business Development Center, also created new buy/sell opportunities for qualified diverse contractors.

The Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council (IUBDC) members include Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Illinois American Water, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and Peoples Gas. The mission of the IUBDC is to serve the Illinois utilities as a forum for best practice sharing and information exchange with the focus on advancing the growth and utilization of utility-based diverse businesses in the state of Illinois.