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

It is estimated that roughly 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.

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These individuals have experienced higher rates of closures and sharper declines in cash balances.

The goal is for health systems to use their power within communities to help build and support healthy, equitable, climate-resilient local economies and improve the health and wealth of the local community.

This commitment was designed by the Healthcare Anchor Network in partnership with Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth 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.

These institutions have also agreed to work with at least two of their large vendors to create hiring pipelines in the local communities and commit to adopting sustainable procurement goals.

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“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 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.

Visit, HenryFord.com for more information.

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