Henry Ford Joins $1B Effort to Support Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19

June 9, 2021

DETROIT (June 9, 2021) – With the economic fallout of COVID-19 hitting small businesses and their communities especially hard, Henry Ford Health System and 11 other health systems have signed an “Impact Purchasing Commitment” and backed it with a joint $1 billion pledge to increase spending on local, minority, women-owned and other small businesses and enterprises.

The goal is for health systems to use their power as anchor institutions in their communities to help build and support healthy, equitable, climate-resilient local economies – and improve overall community health and wealth.

The commitment, designed by the Healthcare Anchor Network in partnership with Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, is an agreement to shift procurement strategies and spending, including with Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) as well as local and employee-owned, cooperatively owned and nonprofit-owned enterprises, by at least $1 billion over five years.

The institutions also agree to work with at least two of their large existing vendors to create hiring pipelines in the disinvested communities that they serve.

Additionally, the Healthcare Anchor Network pledge-signers commit to adopting sustainable procurement goals, which help build additional momentum garnered by hospitals that are part of the Practice Greenhealth network. It is committed to purchasing goods and services that minimize damage to health and the environment.

"We know we have a sacred mission to provide the highest quality of care to every individual we serve, but we must challenge ourselves to do more,” said Wright L. Lassiter III, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System.

Lassiter oversees a $6.6 billion integrated health system comprised of five acute care hospitals, three behavioral health facilities, a regional health plan and a wide range of ambulatory, retail and other health services consisting of more than 250 locations across Michigan and 33,000 employees.

Lassiter has recommitted to Henry Ford’s investment in improving communities, especially those most affected by inequities, injustice and lack of opportunities.

“For our communities to achieve true health and wellness, we have to be willing to authentically and courageously address systemic racism and other barriers that prevent equity for all,” he said. “We are proud to support this deeper commitment to employment opportunities and support for minority owned businesses that will have a meaningful impact on the health or our communities,” he said.

Joining Henry Ford in the pledge to reach small businesses are: Advocate Aurora Health, Baystate Health, Bon Secours Mercy Health, Cleveland Clinic, CommonSpirit Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Providence, Rush University Medical Center, Spectrum Health and UMass Memorial Health.

It is estimated that roughly one in five, or 420,000, small businesses have closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The closures have disproportionately impacted small businesses owned by immigrants, women, and Black, Latinx, and Asian individuals. All have experienced higher rates of closures and sharper declines in cash balances.

The number of Black business owners decreased by 41 percent, Latinx business owners by 32 percent, and Asian business owners by 26 percent. Immigrant business owners decreased by 36 percent and women business owners by 25 percent. The loss of jobs and wealth to workers and business owners is devastating as these businesses generate local jobs and are contribute to a healthy, thriving community. Losses of small and MWBE businesses also have a massive impact on broader racial inequality and health equity.

“Health systems are uniquely positioned to have positive impact as leading employers and economic engines in their communities,” stated David Zuckerman, Executive Director, Healthcare Anchor Network. “In addition to providing quality healthcare, they can leverage institutional resources, including almost $500 billion in annual spending, to help address the economic, racial, and environmental resource disparities that impact community health outcomes,” Zuckerman said.

Small local businesses struggle with tapping large, stable contracts and MWBEs historically lack access to capital. Even small shifts in the health systems’ spending portfolios can make a difference, and inclusive local purchasing also makes sense for the health system as a business.

By sourcing products and services locally and from MWBEs, health systems can further align their capital with sustainability, diversity and inclusion and community benefit priorities. They can also strengthen their reputation as the local provider of choice, address supply chain needs and create more efficient and resilient supply chains. Sustainable procurement also brings with positive societal impacts such as reducing pollution, including, for example, conditions that contribute to chronic health conditions like asthma.

Prior to COVID-19, which shined a more revealing light on disparities and inequities in community health and wealth, Henry Ford had long committed to creating and investing in solutions to economic barriers and other social determinants of health that contribute to poorer health outcomes, less access to healthcare and economic opportunities and social injustices. Henry Ford is proud that these efforts have resulted in numerous awards and recognition through the years.

The latest pledge is one of many important commitments through the Healthcare Anchor Network, of which Henry Ford was a founding member in 2016. The network has now grown to 60-plus health system members since then and Henry Ford has committed in other ways to work together to accelerate improvement of community health.

In 2019, Henry Ford and 14 other health systems committed a joint $700 million in place-based investment capital over five years to address social determinants of health in their communities. Henry Ford also signed on to the network’s 2020 leadership agenda, which is using the power of the group as a whole to support local communities across multiple operational areas of health care.

Healthcare Anchor Network supports health systems in accelerating learning and local implementation of economic inclusion strategies. Together member hospitals and health systems employ more than 1.5 million people, purchase over $75 billion annually and hold more than $150 billion in investment assets.


MEDIA CONTACT: Kim North Shine / knorth1@hfhs.org / 313-549-4995

About Henry Ford Health System

Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan.

Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants.

The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit.

As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. Our dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.

Our not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.

Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.


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