Study finds disparities in Raleigh’s MWBE contracting

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

A recent study has found that Raleigh continues to have disparities in MWBE representation in its contracting. The study also recommended ways to improve MWBE participation.

The evaluation looked at services contracted by the City of Raleigh and the racial and gender breakdowns of contractors hired. The study looked for gaps between contractors’ race and gender and Raleigh’s demographics. The review discovered there are disparities in the following service types:

  • Design Services – Asian American-owned firms, Hispanic American-owned firms, Women-owned Businesses
  • Construction and Construction Related Services: African American-owned firms, Asian American-owned firms, Hispanic American-owned firms, Native American-owned firms
  • General Services (Professional and Nonprofessional Services) – Asian American-owned firms, Native American-owned firms
  • Goods and Supplies: African American-owned firms, Asian American-owned firms, Hispanic American-owned firms, Native American-owned firms, Women-owned Businesses

Surveys showed that local businesses have difficulties accessing loan and grant funding, which is critical when taking on larger projects and face challenges understanding the process for working with the ity.

Also, the city’s MWBE certification process is laborious and some companies forego certification, meaning they are not counted as MWBE even if they are owned by minorities or women.

A lack of networking opportunities makes it difficult for contractors to build connections that increase a business’ chance of success.

The study reviewed a five-year period to see what racial and gender groups were underrepresented in construction and construction-related services design services, goods and supplies, professional and nonprofessional services, construction and construction-related services.

Recommendations include:

  • establish race and gender-conscious goals
  • add goals that require good faith effort to get minority and women participation in all types of city contracts. The city has created a committee tasked with setting up these goals.
  • make changes to procurement systems and culture. The procurement advisory committee has been revamped and will be tasked with advancing procurement improvements.
  • implement race and gender-neutral initiatives that assist all businesses, regardless of who owns them. Initiatives may include help setting goals, training, and outreach, and lending expertise on certain business operations.
  • create a diverse supplier program to ensure the city gets more of its supplies and services from businesses owned by traditionally underrepresented groups.

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