Good evening. Thank you, Ron, for the warm introduction and for your service as head of our Office of Access and Opportunity.
Welcome to Massachusetts, ladies and gentleman, and to the First Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Directors. We appreciate all that you do.
In the last 6 years, since I've been in office, the Commonwealth has emerged as a leader in creating access and opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.
Since the beginning of my Administration, state spending with minority firms has increased nearly 90 percent, and state spending with women-run firms has increased by about 120 percent. We have also implemented policies and programs to ensure diversity in both the people we hire and the goods and services we procure.
To achieve this, we consolidated various agencies to better integrate procurement and supplier diversity efforts.
Our Office of Access and Opportunity -- under the leadership of Ron Marlow, oversees and coordinates personnel and procurement diversity efforts.
Procurement Officers in each Executive Branch agency are now responsible for keeping all state agencies invested and engaged on supplier diversity.
And we continue to push these objectives in new initiatives. For example, in new legislation to expand gaming in our state we secured language to extend supplier diversity requirements, meaning licensed casinos will have to adopt and report on supplier diversity objectives and outcomes.
We've staffed state government to reflect the diversity of our Commonwealth, too. Under Governor Romney, 3.6 percent of the Governor's office staff were minorities. Today minorities represent 26.2 percent of my staff -- a 627.8 percent increase!
11.2 percent of Executive Branch managers were minorities under Governor Romney.
Today that number is 16.2 percent, a 46 percent increase.
We've increased the role of women in our state government as well. On the Governor's Office staff by 22.7 percent, and in Executive Branch management roles by 46 percent. Today, 52.8 percent of all Executive Branch employees are women.
Why do we do this?
Minority-owned businesses are an engine for job creation in the Commonwealth. There are over 47,000 minority-owned firms in Massachusetts spanning the industries -- high tech, health care, construction, hospitality, education, and financial services just to name a few. If we want to not just recover from the recession, but to grow economically, minority and women-owned businesses must grow.
The strategy we have pursued focuses on investing in education, in innovation, and in infrastructure. Because we have pursued it with discipline, our unemployment rate is well below the national average, our innovation economy is on fire, and we are first in the nation in student achievement, in the top five globally in math and science.
Minority and women-owned businesses participate in each prong of our strategy, and therefore share in our success.
We have a lot more work to do. But there's a reason we do what we do.
When I was growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the 50s and 60s, every child was under the jurisdiction of every single adult on the block. If you messed up down the street in front of Mrs. Jones', she would straighten you out as if you were hers -- and then call home, so you'd get it two times.
What those adults were trying to get across to us was that they had a stake in us, and that membership in a community is about understanding the stake that each of us has, not just in our own dreams and our own struggles but in our neighbors' as well. It was about what I call "generational responsibility."
If we keep that sense of community alive, if we make it an integral part of the work we are doing in and between government and with the private sector, I'm confident our best days are ahead.
God bless you all and thank you for the work you do to make your community stronger.