COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther signed an executive order to implement the recommendations from disparity studies released last year.
The report looked at the disparities within the business community and provided several recommendations on how Columbus could address these issue.
Mayor Ginther wants to make sure small, minority, and women-owned businesses have equal access to bidding on city contracts and said he believes the time to act is now because he wants all businesses to be a part of this economic recovery.
“Small, minority, and women owned businesses will suffer the greatest impact from this slowing economy,” said Ginther.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted even more disparities these businesses have always faced. From January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015 in Columbus, minority and women prime contractors and subcontractors represent 19.7 percent of the city’s available construction contractors but received 6.1 percent of all construction dollars during that period.
Mayor Ginther’s executive order aims to address those numbers and more that were found in this report.
NBC4 asked if this was the right time to focus on small, minority, and women-owned business when all businesses are hurting during this pandemic.
“I believe it absolutely makes sense,” said Mayor Ginther. “What we’ve seen even nationally that 91 percent of African American-owned firms had applied for the funding from the Paycheck Protection Program and only 40 percent received that funding.”
This order will create a business advisory council, which will advocate for these minority and women-owned businesses.
It will streamline payments to all businesses so that small businesses and subcontractors get their money sooner to keep their operations afloat.
The order also asks the city to break up bids on projects giving small, minority, and women-owned businesses a chance to compete and have a direct relationship with the city, which are problems stated in the study.
“A lot of the write-in comments we received from the disparity study said people just didn’t feel that they could compete at that $100 million to $200 million level,” said Beverley Stallings-Johnson, the Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Mayor Ginther said these are just some of the recommendations the city will implement.
The business advisory council will continue to work with Columbus City Council on other polices to provide equity as this recovery begins.