Black Caucus wants minority, female participation on Omni

Monday, May 23, 2011 at 10:56am

Members of the Metro Council’s Black Caucus are hoping hurdles are removed to ensure sufficient minority, female and small business participation in the construction of Nashville’s new $287 million convention center headquarters Omni Hotel.

Fifteen months into work on the city’s Music City Center, project leaders have fulfilled a goal in extending at least 20 percent of work to contractors that are small businesses or minority- or female-owned. But with a June groundbreaking of the adjacent hotel just weeks away, black leaders are now turning their attention to Omni.

The Black Caucus authored a letter to Omni officials last week asking that company representatives attend a future caucus meeting to discuss Omni’s diversity program and how they plan to monitor it. The letter references a $95 application fee charged to potential contractors.

“Several contractors have brought to our attention several practices that have been put in place that may not be considered inclusive,” the Black Caucus’ letter reads.

“For example, the $95 fee that is charged to contractors before they can be considered as a potential DBE [Diversity Business Enterprise] contractor has deferred many Small/Minority/Women owned companies from seeking participation on the Omni Hotel Project.”

Prior to the council’s approval of a public-private deal to finance the hotel’s construction, Omni leaders expressed a desire to ensure minority, female and small business participation in Nashville.

But the Black Caucus’ letter says the fee has turned into an obstacle for already struggling businesses.

“This fee is disappointingly limiting the amount of Small/Minority/Women owned business participation,” the letter reads.

While members of the Black Caucus understand the fee is used to conduct background checks, the letter continues, they say most applicants have already been subjected to checks via the nine-member Convention Center Authority.

Omni spokeswoman Caryn Kboudi could not immediately be reached for comment. 

14 Comments on this post:

By: Magnum on 5/23/11 at 12:36

“For example, the $95 fee that is charged to contractors before they can be considered as a potential DBE [Diversity Business Enterprise] contractor has deferred many Small/Minority/Women owned companies from seeking participation on the Omni Hotel Project.”

You've got to be kidding. If you can't afford a $95 application fee, I can conclude two things:
1. You do not have enough company history/experience/capital to be working on this large of a project.
2. You won't be able to get the necessary bonding/insurance needed for a large contract.

Then again, I'm sure these minimal requirements are waived in the interest of meeting the DBE requirements.

By: CrimesDown on 5/23/11 at 1:46

Magnum....I agree with you. If you can't afford $95, how could your business be worth dealing with? I wonder if they know how stupid this sounds?

By: localboy on 5/23/11 at 1:50

Exactly, Magnum.
"But the Black Caucus’ letter says the fee has turned into an obstacle for already struggling businesses.

“This fee is disappointingly limiting the amount of Small/Minority/Women owned business participation,” the letter reads."
If this fee is unaffordable, somebody needs help with their business plan...talk about eyes bigger than your stomach.
This has the making of a small molehill that someone wants to grow into a mountain.

By: yogiman on 5/24/11 at 5:21

Isn't it interesting the Metro Council can have a "Black Caucus". Do they also have a "White Caucus"? If not, isn't that "preference" versus "discrimination"?

By: govskeptic on 5/24/11 at 5:29

Council members Maynard and Gilmore never seem to find any fee or charge
(no matter how small) as being too expensive for their minority to pay and
therefore must be exempt ! Record keeping and clarity toward financial
soundness to complete the job that these sub-contractors need to adhere to
before being awarded a contract is also always questioned as unreasonable!
Small businesses, no matter the ownership, know that there are certain rules
of the road and laws of contracting that have to be followed. If you don't know
beans about business, which many don't, then get some sound advice before
proposing legislation or whipping off threatening letters to Builders or other
government officials about a subject you know nothing about!
Times are too hard for all this political posturing being taken by so-so many!

By: budlight on 5/24/11 at 6:19

"But the Black Caucus’ letter says the fee has turned into an obstacle for already struggling businesses."

And once again, I'll add to this: I would not want to do business with any company that is not financially sound. $95.00 for a one time fee. That would be about 27 cents a day that the company would have to have as part of their profits. If they can't afford 27 cents a day for a filing fee, what's the rest of their credit worthiness like?

Being a woman or being a minority does not, in itself, qualify a company to do business. What foundation is their company built on? What type of qualified people are they hiring? Where else are they cutting corners? Material perhaps? Shoddy workmanship perhaps? Or just play lack of expertise?

Nope. No exceptions. Pay the $95 fee or shut up.

By: Ingleweird on 5/24/11 at 9:59

@Yogiman:
Um, by "White Caucus" you must mean the KKK, and no one wants to (publicly) be a part of that anymore, but I'm sure you can provide copies of the application...

By: budlight on 5/24/11 at 8:48

No ingleweeird, he means white vs black caucus. If the black people can have a "black" caucas or any other organization that is EXCLUSIVELY black, what then would you call that? Is it a rare form of KKK? if they can discriminate, then so can them!

NO one should, but since they want to, then they should expect them to.

I personally do not care, but you sound so reverse racist to me.

By: dargent7 on 5/25/11 at 4:27

Race and minorities aside, why charge such an exhorbinant "filing" fee?
A hundred bucks for a stack of papers?
$20.00 seems more like it.
But, minorities complaining does seem out of balance.
They should file, get turned down, then sue or complain.

By: budlight on 5/25/11 at 7:37

D7, $95 in the span of a life time is peanuts. Filing fees are not all that uncommon. It's just that these businesses are not solvent to start with, so $95 could make or break them! (duh)

By: budlight on 5/25/11 at 7:58

I have decided to open a business; don't have funds for advertising - want a waiver cause I'm a woman - want free advertising. Oops! don't have money for inventory; want a waiver - want free inventory; don't have money for employees; want a waiver - work for me for free.

Oops! That's welfare. Oh, I don't qualify for welfare so I guess I'll just have to get a real job!

I'm just gibberishing! Have a good day. I'd better get off here before I post myself into a cornere with D7!

By: yogiman on 5/25/11 at 9:37

Don't worry about that, budlight. Intelligence comparison don't come close. From prior posts, I'd have to "say" you make better sense.

By: yogiman on 5/25/11 at 9:42

Oh, yeah, budlight. Your comment about the Supreme Court in Indiana passing that rule giving cops the "right" to go into your home without a warrant. They did on a 3-2 decision. A sheriff made a comment about in HIS favor.

I'll still argue it being one more step into communism.

By: budlight on 5/25/11 at 8:56

You may be right about the communism thing. After all we do owe China a lot.