Indianapolis to boost businesses owned by disabled

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Companies owned by people with disabilities could get a greater share of business from city and county contracts under a proposal signed into law by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Thursday.

The measure creates a so-called Disability Business Enterprise Program for the city that will encourage participation from businesses owned by the disabled on public works projects and in the city’s purchase of goods and services.

The program is modeled after existing programs that target businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. City and county officials will target 1 percent of annual government contract spending for businesses owned by people with disabilities.

“It brings people with disabilities into that same economic land of opportunity,” Juli Paini, director of the city's Office of Disability Affairs, told IBJ newsgathering partner Fox59.

Greg Fehribach, a wheelchair-bound Indianapolis attorney who has run his own law practice for 27 years, said he wants to see other disabled business owners empowered.

“We have to get people who are users of the system to be contributors to the system,” he told Fox59.

The City-County Council approved the measure – dubbed Proposal 289 – in a unanimous vote on April 22.

Proposal 289 was designed in part to create entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, according to Council president Maggie Lewis.

Some private projects that include city investments will also be a part of the new yearly requirement for disabled-owned businesses.

Statistics reveal 146,000 people in Marion County are disabled, and approximately 70 percent are living in poverty.


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