Lexington conducts disparity study on city contracts

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The public had a chance to weigh in on how to improve the number and amount of contracts that go to minority owned businesses. Numbers from the city show less than one percent of its contracts went to Black-owned businesses.

“We want to ensure that our purchasing process is fair, and that we do whatever we can to encourage these businesses to participate in city business,” said Mayor Linda Gorton.

At the suggestion of the Lexington Commission for Racial Justice and Equality, the Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government agreed to conduct a study to identify barriers keeping minorities and women from obtaining contracts with the city.

The study looks to examine disparities within the percentage of dollars LFUCG has spent with minority and woman-owned businesses, and also analyses the amount of dollars these businesses might look to receive based on the services they provide.

Wednesday, the city hosted a public hearing on Zoom with a presentation by BBC Research and Consulting Director Iris McClish, as well as a time for questions and public testimony.

“We’re assessing the participation of women and minority-owned businesses in LFUCG contracts, and compare that to their market availability to understand whether any business segments or types of businesses are being under-utilized on LFUCG contracts,” said BBC Research and Consulting Director Iris McClish.

LFUCG’s objective is to understand whether minority or women-owned businesses face any added barriers in contracting with the city. The study looks at construction, accounting, and professional services, like architecture and engineering, that are 51% or more owned and controlled by women or a recognized minority group.

The study also examines factors that are relevant to starting a business, such as educational experience, whether women or minority groups face barriers in their ability to obtain a loan, and home ownership status.

“We’ll also be looking at business ownership rates, and whether or not women and minorities own businesses at similar rates to non-Hispanic white men,” said McClish.

The study also records the success of businesses owned by women and minorities in Lexington.

The project began in June 2021 and the study will be completed May 2022. The next disparity study public hearing will be held Friday, August 27th via Zoom.

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