Minority contractors come up short

Jan. 20, 2013 @ 09:26 PM

Three Guilford County commissioners want the school system and government agencies to help more minority-owned businesses get contracts.
Commissioners Carolyn Coleman, Bruce Davis of High Point and Raymond Trapp ­ —the county’s three black commissioners — have expressed their concerns during the last week.
The county overall should be doing better to become what Davis has called a “business friendly county.” By law, government agencies can not “set aside” contract work for minority-owned companies, but goals are allowed.
Coleman pressed school district representatives during a county retreat.
“This is an important commitment, and we take it seriously,” Coleman said. “We have to do more.”
The school district has  so far contracted 28.5 percent of 2008 school construction bond money to minority- or women-owned businesses from 2008 and 2012. The goal is 12 percent.
But the problem for the three commissioners is the breakdown.  Companies owned by white women dominate the schools contracting category at 18.27 percent, followed by 6.9 percent, black-owned; 2.2 percent, Hispanic American-owned; 0.47 percent Native American-owned and 0.27 percent Asian American-owned.
“At 6.9 percent African American businesses, I’d have some concerns about that,” Coleman said. “I know you are working hard, but I really wish you’d work a little harder at it.”
The school district has a special committee to reach out to minority contractors. Several school board members, including Deena Hayes, have focused on the issue for years.
“We do the outreach and would like to do better,” said Board of Education Chairman Alan Duncan.
During the first half of the current budget year, 13 percent of county supply and services spending, or $7.6 million, went to minority-owned businesses.
“We have to put our heads together for a plan to improve this,” Davis said during a board meeting.
Less than one percent of county business went to companies owned by black males. White women dominated with 9 percent of county purchasing business, or $5.4 million.
“This is unacceptable overall,” Trapp said. “The state target is too low. We have to do better.”
County agencies also hold minority business opportunity fairs. Coleman liked that idea, but asked for more outreach.    
“We should make the community aware that we want to do business with them,” she said.
dnivens@hpe.com|888-3626

 

Goals
State: 10 percent of business should go to contractors and vendors in minority groups ranging from women to African-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American and Asian American.
Guilford Schools:  28.5 percent of 2008 construction bond contracts, valued at more than $70 million, have gone to minority- or women-owned businesses.  The district goal is 12 percent.
Guilford County: 13 percent of county spending went to minority-owned businesses through the first half of the current budget year.