Study supports goals for women and minority business participation in City contracts

A study to help the City of Minneapolis understand how women-owned and minority-owned businesses compete for contracts offered by the City and in the private sector is now complete. The City commissioned the Disparity Study to examine evidence that would support the continuation of Minneapolis’ Small and Underutilized Business Program and see whether any modifications of that program would be beneficial.

"Despite our successes in involving women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the City's procurement process, we suspected that these companies still faced obstacles," said Department of Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel. "This Disparity Study confirms the need for the City's Small and Underutilized Business Program and advocates setting goals for women and minority business participation in City contracts.

Minneapolis’ ongoing efforts to support women-owned and minority-owned businesses have had a significant impact. As of June 2010 the City had more than $140 million in active projects with 9 percent minority-owned business participation and 10.5 percent women-owned business participation. At the end of 2008, the City had more than $66 million in active projects. Of those, 6.47 percent involved minority-owned business and 8.31 percent involved women-owned businesses. While this shows improvement, it’s still below the City's participation goals.

The Disparity Study thoroughly examined the City's procurement process as well as the locations and ownership of companies that do business with the city. It looked at the overall marketplace and experiences of women-owned and minority-owned businesses that seek contracts in both the public and private sector. It found that that discrimination was a contributing factor to obstacles in access to contracts in our marketplace.

The study also made a number of recommendations to remedy the situation, including the enhancement of current City efforts to fight discrimination and the addition of new initiatives. These initiatives involve both race- and gender-conscious remedies as well as some race- and gender-neutral initiatives.

Public comment period

The City Council has begun a public comment period on the Disparity Study. All comments must be made in writing to the Civil Rights Department in one of two ways:

On December 9, 2010, the Council will be asked to act on any recommendations based on the report.

This is the second Disparity Study completed by the City. The original study was completed in 1995 and formed the basis for the creation of the current Small and Underutilized Business Program, which helps address the effects of past discrimination in contracting and to promote equal opportunities for all to participate in contracts generated by the City.

The City of Minneapolis continues to support an environment where all people and companies working with the City can compete for our business fairly, and the City strives to eliminate discrimination against women-owned and minority-owned business. It is City policy to promote diverse participation on projects or purchases financed in whole or part by City funds.

Nov. 04, 2010

Published Nov. 4, 2010