Rauner looks to close gap in state contracts to minorities

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is taking steps to ensure more minority and women-owned businesses receive state contracts.

A 2015 study found the businesses are underrepresented among those awarded state contracts.

Rauner signed an executive order on Wednesday. It requires the state’s purchasing office to establish a mentor program to assist minority and women-owned businesses. The office also must review how it sets goals for the number of contracts awarded to those companies.

The state also will study and potentially establish so-called “sheltered markets,” in which contracts are set aside specifically for underrepresented businesses.

Sheila Morgan is president and CEO of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council. She calls the order “an important step for the minority business community and their ability to compete and grow.”