Members of the Metro Council want to make sure women and minorities are not being left out of the Music City Center project.
Mayor Karl Dean said 20 percent of spending on the $635 million downtown convention center should go to businesses owned by minorities or women or to small businesses.
According to a report given to the council’s Black Caucus on Tuesday, 28.3 percent of the $18 million already spent has gone to those three types of companies. But only 5.7 percent has been paid specifically to minority-owned businesses and less than 2 percent to companies has gone to firms owned by women.
Councilman Jerry Maynard said Metro Development and Housing Agency and the Convention Center Authority should develop a corrective action plan now to punch up the numbers for women and minorities.
“I’d like to have the authority establish a committee whose sole responsibility it is to make sure that we have inclusion in the spending of dollars,” he said. “That leadership needs to come from the authority. The MDHA has done a fine job of tracking and reporting that information. The problem is the information is not good.”
Maynard said the MDHA needs to add “teeth” to its diversity policy.
“The MDHA needs to say to every contractor that when you submit the request, if you haven’t met those good-faith requirements, we won’t pay your request or we’ll hold back your money,” he said.
Maynard said contractors that repeatedly and egregiously fail to meet the standards should have their contracts revoked.
“If there’s a pattern … we need to take that contract back,” he said.
Roxianne Bethune, who is heading up MDHA’s diversity effort, said it may be a little early to raise the alarm.
“The concern expressed is that currently the minority businesses are at 5.7 (percent) in pre-construction phase and architecture. We are hopeful and confident that the project will get to that 20 percent as it moves along,” she said.
Maynard said that recognizing the problem early — and taking early action — is vital.
“Eighteen million is 18 million,” he said. “We need to look at dollar one all the way through the project. Every time contracts are awarded — whether it’s for PR or design or legal work — … there’s expectation that they have that inclusion,” he said.