City of Chicago adds two new tools for greater transparency


Santiago Covarrubias

The City of Chicago released two new communication methods on Oct. 9 to increase transparency. 

By Metro Reporter

To make information and business opportunities more accessible, the City of Chicago has launched two communication avenues that will primarily benefit small businesses around Chicago.

A new YouTube channel—created by the Department of Procurement Services—uses livestream capabilities to increase public familiarity with the city’s purchasing process, primarily with minority- and women-owned businesses in mind, and the Department of Water Management offers a new email notification system for residents to track specific construction projects.

According to an Oct. 9 City of Chicago press release, the new Department of Procurement Services’ YouTube channel will broadcast bid openings and educational videos. The channel will feature 15 free workshops relating to procurement and certification. The channel’s educational videos are meant to help the certification of minority-and women-owned businesses, but there will be other, more general videos, primarily about Chicago business Woody Fiddall, director of Business Development for VersityLink, a certified minority business enterprise organization, said the new communication method will be a “step in the right direction” for the businesses.

“It gets people information and knowledge about the programs,” Fiddall said. “The City of Chicago offers way above and beyond what a lot of other cities offer. Having the knowledge and ability to navigate through a site like YouTube is an amazing platform. Minority business owners are going to benefit by going to one location to see the videos and programs—this will be right at your fingertips.”

Michele Katz, president of the National Association of Women’s Business Owners for Chicago, said the YouTube platform will also increase transparency and efficiency in Chicago business, especially for the next generation of woman business owners.

NAWBO represents the interests of more than 300,000 female business owners in the Chicagoland area—and 9.1 million nationwide—according to Katz, so communication methods like the YouTube channel are important to encourage women business owners to participate in the procurement process, expand their businesses and contribute to the economy as a whole.

Katz said it is difficult for small business owners to allocate time to investigate business opportunities, and the YouTube channel will ease that process.

“I wouldn’t be surprised—if this is a success—that other cities will catch on and do the same,” Katz said. “Let it be Chicago to be the frontrunner in this type of advancement in transparency.”

Cathy Kwiatkowski, director of Public Affairs for the Department of Procurement Services, said under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership, the city has launched a number of other initiatives to increase business transparency, such as the Bid Tracker application that shows the status of the city’s contract bids.

Kwiatkowski said the department previously launched programs with Facebook and Twitter to inform vendors when things are advertised for bid, but they wanted to expand their social media reach.

“We wanted to find a platform that is most accessible to folks,” Kwiatkowski said. “YouTube is common and popular so we wanted to make sure people could see the bid openings and get the workshops we’re teaching not only live in-person, but from their home or mobile device.”

An Oct. 9 City of Chicago press release also announced WaterALERT, an email notification system for residents that track specific water and sewer construction projects that can be accessed at