For Immediate Release
Contact: Rochelle Smith
NASHVILLE MINORITY BUSINESS CENTER LAUNCHES CONTRACTING FOR EQUITY, TO HOST LEGISLATIVE DAY AT STATE CAPITOL
The Nashville Minority Business Center and Contracting for Equity Business Alliance are hosting Contracting for Equity: 2018 Legislative Day on Capitol Hill from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28 at the Tennessee State Capitol. The event will gather entrepreneurs from across Tennessee to advocate for the equitable distribution of the state’s contracts to private companies. The Center and Alliance will also present policy, procedure, and program recommendations to refine the state’s contracting processes on that day. Following the legislative day activities at the Tennessee State Capitol, the group will attend the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to address policymakers. Attendees can register for the legislative day activities at contractingforequity.org.
NASHVILLE (February 8, 2018) – The Nashville Minority Business Center, in partnership with the Contracting for Equity Business Alliance, is gearing up to host Contracting for Equity: 2018 Legislative Day on Capitol Hill. The event, held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28 at the Tennessee State Capitol, will gather entrepreneurs from across Tennessee to advocate for the equitable distribution of the state’s contracts to private companies.
The overarching goal of the event is to ask state legislators to amend the Tennessee Minority Owned, Woman Owned, and Small Business Procurement and Contracting Act. The Nashville Minority Business Center and the Contracting for Equity Business Alliance have partnered with the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and other state policymakers to amend the current law. The proposed amendment would establish a statewide pilot program to allow select small business owners to do business directly with state government, rather than partnering or unfairly competing with larger firms for the state’s business. The proposed pilot is modeled after a federal procurement and contracting program, called the 8(a) Business Development Program.
“We are excited about the opportunity to give entrepreneurs a voice in determining how the state government chooses to do business with private companies,” said Marilyn Robinson, executive director of the Nashville Minority Business Center. “This proposed amendment will be a game changer for many business owners. Small businesses are vital to our economy, and this amendment will provide them with a real opportunity to grow their businesses and create more jobs.”
In addition to the proposed amendment, the Center and Alliance are also simultaneously presenting state public administrators with a list of policy, programmatic, and procedural recommendations to refine its public contracting processes. The recommendations are based on feedback from business owners across Tennessee, state and local public administrators, as well as best practices from around the nation, including Seattle, Houston, New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. The recommendations will be publicly available immediately after the legislative day activities. Members of the media may request an embargoed copy of the recommendations.
The amendment and proposed policy changes would affect approximately 1,500 small, women, and minority owned businesses statewide.
The call for contracting equity comes nearly 10 years after the state of Tennessee hired Griffin & Strong, P.C. to complete a disparity study of its contracting processes. A disparity study determines whether a government entity, either in the past or currently, engages in exclusionary practices in the solicitation and award of contracts to minority, and women‐owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises. The 2009 disparity study determined that ‘significant disparities exist in all areas of State of Tennessee contracting.’ Among several other findings, the study concluded that while the state has made “noteworthy” progress, “minority and women owned businesses suffer from the continuing effects of past discrimination and, in some instances, continuing discrimination.”
The Governor’s Office of Diversity Business Enterprise (GoDBE) – the entity created in 2003 with the charge to expand economic opportunities for small businesses and small businesses owned by minorities and women – reported in December 2017 that small businesses owned by ethnic minorities received approximately four percent (or about $146 million) of total government contract spending statewide, according to its annual report. State government agencies, the University of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Board of Regents spent about $3.6 billion in the total contracts it awarded to private companies.
“We know what the issues are and we have known for quite some time,” Robinson said. “We do not need to undergo another study. The state reports its progress annually and the numbers are nearly the same each year: businesses owned by ethnic minorities receive approximately four percent of total state spending in contracts annually, while those businesses owned by African Americans only receive approximately two percent of total state contract spends. This is the progress after decades of trying. Now is not the time for more study. Now is the time for strong recommendations and a comprehensive solution.”
Following the legislative day activities at the Tennessee State Capitol, the group will attend the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to address policymakers. Immediately following the meeting with legislators, the group will mix and mingle at Morton’s Steakhouse. Prospective attendees may register for the legislative day and other activities at contractingforequity.org.
The media and the public are invited to attend the legislative day and other activities. For media inquiries, please contact Rochelle Smith at DENOR Brands & Public Relations via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 615.419.1223 or 1.877.64.DENOR.
About the Nashville Minority Business Center
The Nashville Minority Business Center is operated by the Community Resource and Development Center, Inc., a nonprofit 501c3 social enterprise corporation. Its mission is to foster the establishment and growth of competitive minority-owned businesses in the State of Tennessee. The Nashville Minority Business Center is charged with providing management and technical assistance, and market development services to minority entrepreneurs. The benefits to the community are successful, competitive minority-owned firms, wealth, and profit for the investors and entrepreneurs, high skill, higher paying jobs, increased tax revenues and strong local community development.
About the Contracting for Equity Business Alliance
The Contracting for Equity Business Alliance was started by the Nashville Minority Business Center. The Alliance is a group of businesses and community leaders who believe in fairness and equity in public contracting. Members of the Alliance are listed below:
Cathedral of Praise COGIC
City of Life Community Development Corporation
Corinthian Baptist Church
DENOR Brands & Public Relations
I.C.F. Builders & Consultants, Inc.
Roger T. Ligon, Sr.
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
Michelle A. Hernandez Lane
Metropolitan Nashville Office of Women and Minority Business Assistance
Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce
Nashville Business Incubation Center
Angela Crane Jones
Nashville Electric Service
Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Nashville Minority Business Center
Pride Publishing Group
Studio One Photography
Tennessee Board of Regents