Sixteen months ago, the Metro Council’s Black Caucus called for “definite consequences” if Music City Center officials failed to increase participation by minority- and female-owned contractors in work related to the $585 million structure.
Back then, before construction on the 1.2-million-square-foot building had started, only 5.7 percent of dollars spent on pre-construction work had gone to minority-owned businesses and 1.4 percent to businesses owned by women.
On Thursday afternoon at a new conference on the 16-acre construction site, the Black Caucus delivered a different message, praising the efforts of the nine-member Convention Center Authority, Mayor Karl Dean and others in fulfilling a commitment to diversity.
“There was a lot of cynicism and questions being raised about whether the Music City Center would be an economic stimulus package for all Davidson County,” At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard, the caucus treasurer, said Thursday.
But project leaders “to date have delivered on economic inclusion and diversity for the Music City Center,” he continued. “It stands as an economic stimulus package that has impacted all of Davidson County.”
From the beginning, Dean has said he wants more than 20 percent of spending on the convention center to go to small businesses or companies owned by minorities or females. Music City Center’s management team has a staff member who oversees minority participation.
When the Black Caucus originally expressed concerned about diversity in November 2009, 28.2 percent of awarded contracts fell under this category. (See 2009 story here.)
Today, that figure has actually decreased to 22.4 percent of awarded contracts, but the level of minority and women participation has bumped to 9.3 percent and 4 percent, respectively. The participation level of small business now stands at 9 percent, lower than it was in 2009.
With only 10 percent of contracts still to be awarded to contractors, $94 million so far has gone to the combination of minority- and women-owned companies and small businesses. Of that figure, $42 million has gone to minority-owned contractors.
“Business opportunity to the city should be equal and fair across the board, plain and simple,” Dean said Thursday.