The president of Metro Council’s Black Caucus is calling for “definite consequences” if better monitoring is not taken to ensure more participation from female- and minority-owned businesses in forthcoming work related to the proposed $635 downtown convention center.
In a letter addressed to Metro Development and Housing Agency Executive Director Phil Ryan, Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. wrote that companies already hired for the convention center project should be penalized if they don’t contract more businesses owned by women or minorities in the future.
“I would like for the Metro Council to receive notice of what recourse the city has for companies that do not meet their obligations,” Wednesday’s letter reads. “I would also like to see an increase in the amount of participation by women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses by mid-January.”
Mayor Karl 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.
A report issued to the Black Caucus last week showed while 28.3 percent of Music City Center contracting has gone to companies that fit that criteria, only 5.7 percent of dollars spent have been paid to minority-owned businesses and 1.4 percent to businesses owned by women.
“The Black Caucus and a number of our Council colleagues are very concerned about the financing package for the Convention Center that will be presented in the coming months,” Mathews wrote. “I am further concerned that if the financing package is negotiated and passed, there will not be a fair distribution of contracted work amongst women-owned and minority-owned businesses.”
[To view the letter, click on the attachment below.]
Roxianne Bethune, who heads MDHA’s diversity effort, has said it may be too early to raise alarm on the issue considering the project is still just in pre-construction and architectural phases.