March 7, 2018

Department of Procurement Services Releases First Official Solicitations Through the Mid-Sized Business Enterprise Initiative (MBI)

The Department of Procurement Services (DPS) today released the first official solicitations though the Mid-Sized Business Enterprise Initiative (MBI) that will allow small and mid-sized local construction firms to be exclusively eligible to bid on construction projects valued between $3 million and $10 million.

“The MBI program reflects the City’s continued support of small and mid-sized businesses,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “By helping to level the playing field so that everyone has an opportunity to grow their business, we will make our neighborhoods stronger and all of Chicago stronger.”

The MBI construction program, passed by City Council in October 2016, is a race- and gender-neutral program, expands on the Small Business Initiative (SBI) 1 and 2 construction programs, which allow small local firms to be exclusively eligible to bid on projects valued at $3 million or less. Eligible participants in the MBI construction program may exceed the SBA size standards for small businesses, but cannot exceed one and a half times those size standards.

“In order to have a sustainable program, we must provide opportunities for businesses of all types and sizes to compete for and win City contracts,” said Chief Procurement Officer Jamie Rhee. “This program continues the pipeline that has been created to ensure Chicago’s diverse population is represented at the business table.”

The SBI construction program, established October 2011, was designed to encourage small businesses to participate in City-funded construction projects, under $3 million in total cost. In August 2013, after response to feedback from the vendor community, the program was divided into two tiers: SBI 1, projects that are $3 million or less and SBI 2, projects that are $2 million in total cost or less, open to local firms that are one-half the SBA size standards. This tier system establishes standards that allow greater opportunities for smaller businesses. To date, 48 projects valued at nearly $87 million dollars have been awarded to small business as prime contractors.

The first MBI solicitations are for the Department of Water Management, seeking private drain repair program services for North, Center, South, and Far South areas of Chicago. A pre-bid submittal conference is scheduled for March 15, 2018 at 2pm (City Hall, Bid & Bond Room 103, 121 North LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60602). The bid documentation and related information is available at

MBI and SBI are examples of a series of efforts to improve the City’s procurement process and are a result of the Mayor’s commitment to creating an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability in City government. Under his leadership, the City of Chicago has created numerous programs to increase the pool of bidders on City contracts, incentivize the use of small minority and women-owned businesses, build capacity of local businesses, and encourage the employment of local residents.  A recent example is the 2018 Construction Summit, held on February 7, 2018 at the JLM Life Center on Chicago’s west side.  To view a video about the event, visit:

To learn more about local, small M/WBE, and employment programs implemented under Mayor Emanuel, visit


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