Applications for 'Streamlining the Cannabis Social Equity Program' are closed

Streamlining the Cannabis Social Equity Program

The Long Beach Office of Cannabis Oversight is seeking a one-stop-shop solution to streamline the various cannabis social equity program components for our social equity applicants and cannabis businesses.

Applications are closed
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Challenge

The Long Beach Office of Cannabis Oversight is seeking a one-stop-shop solution to streamline the various cannabis social equity program components for our social equity applicants and cannabis businesses.

Background

Create a comprehensive, interactive and centralized cannabis social equity program portal for equity applicants and businesses to submit/upload applications or forms, track compliance with various City requirements, and communicate with City staff. The centralized website/portal would connect all components of the cannabis social equity program that are managed by several City departments. 

Requirements & Outcome

  • Providing a portal so that equity applicants can match with cannabis businesses in the City of Long Beach
  • Ideally integrate with eComply Solutions, Infor and Vendor Central
  • A two-way application portal for applicants and businesses to upload documents
  • The ability to pre-screen equity applicants
  • The ability for businesses and equity applicants to have accounts, collaborate, and view each other's profiles

 

Questions & Answers

General Questions

What is challenge-based procurement?  

Challenge based procurement lets us as City staff articulate our challenge without prescribing how we want it to be solved. We are asking for tech vendor insights into how we might solve this challenge. If you think you can help, take 30 minutes and fill out our application.  

Will the pilot end after 6 months or is there potential for the pilot to carry on? 

The timelines have some flexibility but proposers should not expect for the pilot period to last longer than 6 months. The timeline for the pilot project will be finalized during the project scoping process. For questions on transitioning to a larger scale project, see question 5.  

What happens with leftover assets after the pilot process?  

Any equipment used will not be retained or considered property of the City or participating authorities. All products piloted as part of the Smart City Challenge will be returned at the end of the pilot and/or the partner is expected to remove them in a timely manner. 

How does the city plan to transition successful pilots to larger scale projects?  

We will have a robust evaluation process that is meant to assess whether the pilot is meeting the City’s strategic goals. If the City chooses to move forward with a larger contract, there is the potential for the opportunity to go through another competitive RFP process.  

Can you provide more information regarding the Smart City Initiative? 

More information here: http://www.longbeach.gov/smartcity/pilot-programs/2021-smart-city-challenge/ 

To learn more, proposers may contact Estefania Zavala, Digital Innovation Program Manager at estefania.zavala@longbeach.gov and Ryan Kurtzman, Smart City Program Manager at ryan.kurtzman@longbeach.gov 

How many hours is the vendor expected to allocate on a weekly basis to the City during the pilot phase? 

The hourly expectations and schedule for the pilot project will be finalized during the project scoping process.  

Is there a stipend or any funds available for the vendor during the pilot period? 

No 

If the desired outcome is achieved before the end of the pilot phase can a contract be entered into early? 

Yes, after an appropriate and robust evaluation process. If the City chooses to move forward with a larger contract, there is the potential for the opportunity to go through another competitive RFP process. 

Who owns the Intellectual Property created? 

The solution is owned by the vendor and the City’s data is owned by the City.  

Is the City open to accepting solutions that include long-term partnership with the vendor?   

The pilot project should be able to stand alone and should not depend on a long term partnership.  

If I own a company that usually consults on these types of challenges, should I apply for just one challenge or for every challenge if I think I have a solution? 

We would welcome the same proposer applying to multiple challenges. Please note, however, that if selected to provide a solution for multiple challenges, time constraints may be a challenge. 

Will the city permit applications from one company on multiple challenges? 

Yes.

Challenge-Specific Questions 

Has the social equity and cannabis business application process been fully mapped out?  

Yes. To apply for an adult-use cannabis business license through the City’s Cannabis Social Equity Program, an individual must first complete steps #1-4 on the City’s Open an Equity Business webpage. Step #4 is the first step of the City’s licensing process. 

If so, can that process map be provided?  

See answer to the previous question. 

How is the City currently pre-screening applicants?  

See Step #2 on the City’s Open an Equity Business webpage. 

For income verification, how is the City currently collecting information and supplemental documentation? 

See Step #2 on the City’s Open an Equity Business webpage. Applicants must submit their cannabis social equity program verification form and all supporting documentation to the Office of Cannabis Oversight. 

Who verifies qualification? 

Staff in the Office of Cannabis Oversight reviews cannabis social equity program verification forms and all supporting documentation to determine whether an individual qualifies as an equity applicant. 

For any of the forms on the City’s website now (e.g., Cannabis Social Equity Program Verification Form, Verification of Equity Business Ownership Form, etc.): 

What are the pain points with current state? 

Pain points with the current state are that equity applicants and businesses have to communicate with City staff by email or phone regarding the status of their applications. If they have to submit additional documentation, or make revisions or update to their applications, they have to mail or email those documents as well. This process requires significant time for both applicants and City staff going back and forth. Applicants also have to contact City staff to find out where their applications are in the licensing process and who they should contact for more information. A website portal/platform that would allow applicants and businesses the ability to submit documents, communicate with City staff and/or find out the status of applications directly in their accounts, which would reduce some of the pain points that exist with the current state. 

Are these submitted electronically? Mailed in? Combination? 

Prior to COVID-19 and the closure of City Hall to the public, cannabis social equity program verification forms could be submitted by mail, email or in-person at City Hall. Due to COVID-19, cannabis social equity verification forms may only be submitted by mail or email to the City until further notice.  

The Verification of Equity Business Ownership Form must be submitted as part of an adult-use cannabis business license application. Prior to COVID-19 and the closure of City Hall to the public, cannabis business license applications could only be submitted in-person to City Hall. Due to COVID-19, cannabis business license applications can only be submitted by mail to the City until further notice.  

Where do these forms go once submitted? 

Cannabis social equity program verification forms are submitted to the Office of Cannabis Oversight.  
Cannabis business license applications are submitted to the Business License Division.  

How does follow up happen if an applicant missed information? 

If an application is missing information, City staff from the respective departments will send an incomplete notice to the applicant by email, notifying them of missing information and/or documentation required to complete their application. Applicants will then have the opportunity to re-submit their missing documentation by email or by mail. 

In general, what is the ideal interaction/collaboration between businesses/applicants? 

The ideal interaction between businesses and applicants is a web portal/platform where equity applicants and businesses could have an account. Through these accounts, they could check the status of any applications submitted to the City, submit documentation, communicate with City staff and have a community portal area where businesses and equity applicants could connect on various aspects of the cannabis social equity program. The City currently has multiple programs where a portal/platform that businesses and equity applicants could communicate would be beneficial: 

Equity Incubation Program – adult-use cannabis businesses are required to submit an incubation plan to the City describing how they intend to provide support to equity applicants. These plans are then made available to equity applicants to contact businesses directly for support. It would be more efficient if there was a portal/platform where businesses could submit their incubation plans, City staff could review and approve them, and then the plans were posted in a community area for equity applicants to view and then contact businesses directly for support. A portal/platform would also allow a business an easy way to update their plans. 

Equity Hire Program – adult-use cannabis businesses are required hire equity employees for 40% of total annual hours worked at a business. Businesses currently send any job openings they have to the City, so the City can then send them a list of equity employees that possibly meet the job requirements that they can interview/consider. It would be more efficient if there was a portal where businesses could post their job openings and equity employees could view and directly apply for open positions at cannabis businesses through the portal. This would also provide a transparent way for City staff to keep track of equity employee and cannabis business engagement and communication. 

Is there a timeframe people can apply to the social equity program? 

There is no timeframe for an individual to qualify for the cannabis social equity program or for an equity business to apply for a cannabis business license. This is because the City has no cap on the number of licenses available for the cannabis business types currently available (Cultivation, Manufacturing, Distribution, Laboratory Testing). The City is not currently accepting applications for dispensary (retail) licenses, due to a cap of 32 licenses citywide. All 32 dispensary licenses have already been issued. 

How many applications are managed at a given time? 

All applications are submitted on a rolling basis, so the review of applications is an ongoing process. 

How many cannabis applications have already been approved in the City? 

Please see the following stats as of 4/28/21: 

The City has approved 104 cannabis social equity verification applications, resulting in a total of 104 verified equity applicants. 

The City has approved a total of 314 medical and adult-use cannabis business license applications. See below for a breakdown of equity and non-equity business licenses issued:  

*Equity Businesses 

1 adult-use cannabis business license issued 

**Non-Equity Businesses 

110 adult-use cannabis business licenses issued 

119 medical cannabis business licenses issued 

*Equity Business status, benefits or assistance are only eligible to equity applicants who apply for an adult-use cannabis business license.  

**Many non-equity cannabis businesses are co-located, meaning they were issued both medical and adult-use licenses for the same business type, and/or were issued licenses for multiple business types, as a result there are currently 96 unique, licensed non-equity businesses. 

What role does payment play in the Cannabis Social Equity Program?  

Cannabis social equity applicants are not required to pay any fees to submit their applications or have their applications reviewed. Equity applicants that proceed through the licensing process are eligible for direct grants which get issued in the form of checks being mailed out and/or picked up by the applicant.  

Non-Equity Businesses are required to pay an annual $2,500 social equity program fee. The fee is initially charged upon submittal of an application, and then is charged annually following issuance of their adult-use cannabis business license. 

Does the City currently use any payment solutions?  

Yes 

If so, what are they?  

The City charges the cannabis social equity program fee, and all other application and business license fees through the City’s Infor system.  

What role does each of the following applications play in the current state of the Social Equity Program: eComply Solutions, Infor, Vendor Central? 

eComply Solutions LLC has been selected on behalf of the City to administer a cannabis payroll monitoring system, which provides the City with the ability to collect, monitor, and analyze Adult-Use Cannabis Business Certified Hourly Records (CHRs) and compare against the City’s list of verified Equity Employees to determine the percentage of total annual hours performed by Equity Employees. Adult-Use Cannabis Businesses are required to use the City’s cannabis payroll monitoring system to submit Certified Hourly Records for all individuals employed at their business.  

Infor Public Sector is the City’s software system for managing various City applications and permits. Once a cannabis business license application is mailed in to the City, the application is entered into Infor and a business license account is created. The Infor system then tracks and documents every cannabis business license application from start to finish and has the capabilities to send out billing and other automated notices, assign parts of the licensing process to different City departments for their review and approval, and provides the ability to run standard and other ad hoc reports for any data related to cannabis businesses and their applications. 

Vendor Central is one component of the City’s new Munis financial system. Vendor central provides staff with the ability to check the status of grant payments made to equity applicants and equity businesses for completion of various milestones in the City’s Direct Grants Program. Through Vendor Central, staff can check the status of a grant payment through the City’s internal approval process, when a grant check has been approved, and when a grant check has been cleared. 

What is the desired integration/communication between the proposed solution and these existing applications? 

The desired integration/communication between the proposed solution and these existing applications is for specific and applicable field data to be pushed to the proposed solution so equity applicants and businesses can see the status of their applications, submit documents and have the ability to track their participation/compliance with various components of the cannabis social equity program. Some examples are provided below: 

The Infor system tracks the status and milestone of all cannabis business license applications in the City. If these fields could be pushed to the proposed solution, they could show equity businesses where they are in the licensing process and which City departments they should follow up with for more information. The City is currently working on a new feature of Infor called Rhythm for Civics which is a public-facing portal that would show this information in the licensing process, but currently equity verification applications are not entered into this system, it is only the business license applications.  

The eComply Solutions cannabis payroll system provides City staff with the ability to run a standard report on a business’s percentage of hours performed by equity employees for any defined period of time. It would be desired for that report to be pushed out to the proposed solution and provide businesses with a snapshot of their Equity Hire percentage, as the desired portal/platform would be a centralized source for businesses to track their compliance with other aspects of the Cannabis Social Equity Program in one account.  

The Vendor Central component of the City’s Munis financial system contains data on the status of grant payments made to equity applicant and equity businesses so desired integration would push specific data to the proposed solution to show the total amount in grant funding available (in real time) and how much in grants has been disbursed. If possible, it could also show equity applicants and equity businesses the status of their grant payment. 

For each applicant/account profile, what information should be viewable?   

Information for each applicant’s account profile should include contact information and any other information that is applicable to the Cannabis Social Equity Program area that they are participating in. This information will vary depending on whether accounts are for equity applicants, equity businesses, equity employees or non-equity businesses. This will also depend on the capabilities of the proposed solution. 

What is the breakdown of user roles and number of users for this pilot solution?  

Number of businesses? Depending on the capabilities of the proposed solution, the City would determine a reasonable number of business users for the pilot system. If the City selected to use the pilot system long term, there would be around 100 businesses would use the solution ongoing. 

Number of applicants? Depending on the capabilities of the proposed solution, the City would determine a reasonable number of equity applicants for the pilot system. If the City selected to use the pilot system long term, the system would need the capability for at least several hundred equity applicants to use the system, as the City currently has 104 verified equity applicants and 147 verified equity employees. 

Number of City staff? Depending on the capabilities of the proposed solution, the City would determine a reasonable number of City staff for the pilot system. If the City selected to use the pilot system long term, the number of City staff users would be between 10-20.  

 Who are the other stakeholders/City departments that would be involved in the pilot solution?  

Other City departments that may be involved in the pilot system include Technology & Innovation, Business License Division, Economic & Workforce Development, and the Office of Equity, but the Office of Cannabis Oversight would make that determination based upon the proposed solutions and the capabilities of the solutions. Other stakeholders may include the vendors that manage the City’s existing applications, if the proposed solutions have the capabilities to integrate with these existing City applications.  

Categories

Digitization, Equity, Permit Streamlining, and Process Improvement

Budget

Budget Not Determined Yet

Procurement Method

RFP Bus

Application Period

April 9 through May 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM

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Applications are closed

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