Fayetteville City Council votes against conducting a disparity study in contracting

November 13, 2012 at 11:31 am 1 comment

Last July, the City of Fayetteville passed a policy to promote local businesses and small, women- and minority-owned businesses in the city’s contracting process. The plan, called “Fayetteville Jobs First,” was aimed at mitigating some of the historical trends that excluded these businesses from getting municipal contracts. Part of the plan was to conduct a disparity study, which would analyze historic trends in contracting. The Fayetteville Observer reports today that the City Council has decided not to move forward with the study, as some Council members took issue with the $300,000 price tag for the consultant to conduct the study.

The issue of fairness in municipal contracting is something we have blogged about before (here and here). According to an analysis by the Fayetteville Observer, only three of the 24 contracts last year went to local businesses. Currently, the state’s goal for minority contracting is 10 percent, and Cumberland County’s goal is 15 percent. The disparity study would help identify problems and develop appropriate solutions moving forward. Some Council members say this can  be done for a lot less than $300,000.

Either way, a study should be conducted in order to put in place a policy to open up access to historically excluded businesses. This is a matter of both economic development and economic justice. The money that a municipality spends should be retained within the community as much as possible, and all local businesses should have a fair shot at obtaining contracts. Hopefully this debate over the price of the study will not serve as a roadblock to any study being conducted. Some members of the City Council argue that analyzing the past is unnecessary and that we should focus on the future. However, the only way to know where the problems are and how to fix them is by looking at what has already been done.

Entry filed under: Economic Development, Small Business. Tags: , .

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