Friday, August 6, 2010
Individual Diversity Champion
Espinosa’s legacy helps level the playing field
by Marisa Carbone Finotti
Raul Espinosa is a diversity watchdog — especially when
it comes to contracting with small businesses.
Espinosa was sent to the United States from Cuba by his
parents when he was just 14 years old to flee the Castro
regime. He makes a living consulting with government
officials and with small size companies interested in
getting involved in public contracting.
In 2005, Espinosa started thinking about his legacy and
formed the Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA) as a
national coalition of small business trade groups to help
level the playing field in government contracting.
After winning numerous contracting protests that highlighted procurement abuses, Espinosa established a
procurement think tank at the University of North Florida in 2007 devoted to regulatory changes, research and
entrepreneurial solutions for public officials. “With the support of procurement experts and academicians, the
Think Tank conceived The Umbrella Initiative whose mission is “to double the number of small businesses
contracting with the federal, state and local government by the year 2020,” Espinosa said.
The Umbrella Initiative is focusing its efforts on 10 pilot projects, which Espinosa wants to implement in the
State of Florida before rolling them out to other states. “Our goals are to work with Small Business
Development Centers (SBDC), involve college students in the community and incorporate non-profits in
solutions that create jobs in underserved communities,” Espinosa commented.
One of the Think Tank projects would establish a Small Business Legal Center at a local Law School with help
from the American Bar Association to defend the statutory rights of small businesses. Another project would
highlight how college students can work with non-profits on entrepreneurial ideas to motivate inner city
entrepreneurs and create jobs. The C.E.L. project