Diversifying Vendors: Auraria Higher Education Center’s On-Call Skilled Trades List

AHEC is a unique State of Colorado entity. It manages facilities and operations for the Auraria Campus, home to Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and University of Colorado Denver. All four of these public institutions are active in the Denver Anchor Network.

Every March, AHEC issues an RFP to generate a pre-approved skilled trades vendor list. Stacy Tino, AHEC’s Director of Procurement, talked to CCWB about this upcoming opportunity and solicited our input on the RFP language to see if we had questions or ideas for how to make it more accessible for small businesses. Unfortunately, most of our suggestions for modification were in areas governed by State rules for procurement and could not be changed without the State changing its rules. Other than those areas, it is clear that AHEC does a great job of being as clear as possible. But, as you know, submitting a bid to an institution is no easy feat.

CCWB’s Small Business Outreach Manager, Kevin Hernandez and Claire Cooper, a CCWB intern from University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies, searched multiple databases and websites and connected with partner organizations to identify local, BIPOC-owned businesses who offer one or more of the 14 priority skilled trades. Next, they reached out by phone and email to describe the RFP opportunity and to invite the businesses to an information session with AHEC’s Director of Procurement and AHEC’s Facilities Director. Twenty people representing eleven business attended the information session on Monday March 21st. CCWB will provide support to small business owners that request help submitting a bid.

Currently, AHEC has 58 vendors on their On-Call Skilled Trades List, with five of those being BIPOC-owned. AHEC and CCWB are hopeful that this deliberate outreach will result in further diversifying AHEC’s Skilled Trades vendors. We will share lessons learned in the next issue of Anchors Aweigh.