2001 Public/Private Partnership Awards



Known as “Possibility City”, Atlanta stands out among metropolitan areas for its progressive efforts to promote opportunities among the many communities it serves, particularly small and minority groups that have been traditionally underrepresented.  As a federally designated Empowerment Zone (EZ), the City of Atlanta has made great strides to provide economic opportunities, sustainable development and a strategic vision for change for its residents.

United Water, as the operator of Atlanta’s water system, has taken a proactive role in supporting the City’s improvement efforts to achieve the growth and development objectives identified by the EZ.  Since contract operations began in January 1999, United Water has led by example, regularly exceeding the required 37% minority/woman business enterprise participation levels.

To mirror the City’s outstanding affirmative action efforts, United Water has developed an extensive community and minority-business outreach program representing the diversity of the City’s residents, from school children to business owners.  Representative programs include:

Empowerment Zone Vendor Fair

In December, United Water will conduct its second annual vendor work session, Business Incentives in the Atlanta Empowerment Zone.  Designed to educate small and minority businesses within the EZ, participants are provided with an overview of the EZ program and offered workshops covering various federal and state incentives and tax credits available to companies doing business in an EZ.  Seventeen local vendors attended last year’s fair and offered enthusiastic evaluations on the productive benefits of the program.

Minority Vendor Recruitment

To better inform vendors of current and future opportunities related to United Water’s Atlanta project, a recruitment initiative targeting Asian and Hispanic subcontractors and suppliers was implemented. Feedback from this effort, which was supported by the City of Atlanta Office of Contract Compliance, was very positive. A clearly measurable benefit from this effort was recognized in the award of two new contracts to both an Asian and a Hispanic vendor. United Water continues to recruit minority and women-owned businesses from the local business community, and is dedicated to hosting and attending local vendor fairs as part of our commitment to the Atlanta business community.

Partnership with Clark Atlanta University

United Water and Clark Atlanta University have joined in a collaborative research partnership to promote technology transfer and intellectual exchange under the auspices of the Institute for Water Resource Development. United Water provided start-up funding to support the initial activities, including development of a Water Certification Program; development of research proposals with United Water research staff; and development of a Watershed Assessment Program for the City of Atlanta.

Adopt-a-School Internship Program

UWSA implemented its successful second-year summer internship program with George Washington Carver High School, located within the EZ.  In 1999 there were seven students enrolled in the program -- the number of students more than tripled to 24 this year.  Over a period of ten weeks, students work in “real” jobs, providing coverage in operations, maintenance, accounting, laboratory and clerical/receptionist functions.  In addition to basic work skills and ethics, students receive counseling on personal finance and career development; and are exposed to a variety of visiting professionals who review their career and educational histories.  A United Water employee serves as a mentor throughout the program, outlining weekly goals and implementing a learning plan for each student.

Through continued participation in these programs, and the development of other beneficial programs designed to promote the involvement of small, minority and woman-owned businesses, United Water is committed to serving its client and the entire Atlanta community as they go forward and strive to achieve their goals for economic and social growth in the next century.