Port of Houston leaders celebrated a new effort to diversify the businesses it contracts with July 22.

The new initiative aims to increase the representation of minority, women-owned, and businesses that enter into sub or primary contracts with the port. The Port Authority, the agency overseeing the port operations, created a business equity division with a goal of reaching 30% participation in minority and women-owned businesses in projects led at the port, Port of Houston Executive Director Roger Gunther said at a press conference announcing the efforts.

“The commitment is there, and we are very much looking forward to success in this,” Gunther said.

Regional leaders in attendance, including Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, pointed to the extensive plan to deepen and widen the port through dredging as an opportunity to get more of these businesses involved.

The port is joining a growing number of local and regional bodies interested in updating policies to increase participation from minority and women-owned businesses. Harris County commissioners and board of the Metropolitan Regional Transit Authority of Harris County have both created policies to increase participation with these businesses within the last year.

"With what Port Houston is doing, what Houston has been doing, with what the county is now doing, combined with what METRO is now doing, this ecosystem has just taken off,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The city of Houston has had an office of business opportunity and specific contract requirements in place since the 1980s; however, City Council members have been seeking ways to improve it. The Houston City Council Economic Development Committee reviewed potential updates to its policies in December 2020; however, no specific changes have been made yet.