Results over the first ten years of the City of Portland's race and gender-neutral small business procurement program, the Sheltered Market Program (SMP), show increases in city spending with minority and women owned firms. All very small businesses (under $1 million in annual receipts) have benefited, including those owned by white men. Yet, the local Oregonian newspaper went out of its way to racialize this program and cast it in a negative light.
My research (right) has shown that all small businesses in the US are losing market share to large corporations. Therefore programs like Portland's and Virginia's, which I recently highlighted, are well situated to address the barriers that all small businesses face. Portland's SMP also provides business development services.
Seven local agencies participate in the program which restricts competition: five city agencies most involved in public works, the Housing Authority of Portland, and the Portland Development Commission.
My biggest complaint of this program is that few contracts are being sheltered - only $13.7 million worth of contracts since 1998. However, even many states and cities with very strong affirmative action programs do not have prime contractor programs.