Thursday, August 01, 2013

Watch out: Legislation Filed to Establish Workforce, Diversity Programs

Metro Council Press Release, August 1, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro Councilmembers Jerry Maynard and Lonnell Matthews today announced legislation for a workforce development and diversity program that will apply to all private construction projects which receive Metro incentives. The initiative replicates Mayor Karl Dean’s workforce and diversity program that was successful during the construction of the recently opened Music City Center and the Omni Hotel, which will be completed later this year.

The proposed workforce development program would be managed by the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development and would provide job training and placement for Nashville residents. It would also establish a goal for 20 percent of the construction budgets for such projects to be spent with small, minority and women-owned businesses. The legislation is scheduled for first reading by the Metro Council on Aug. 6.

“Making permanent this type of workforce and diversity program will go a long way in ensuring all Davidson County residents have the opportunity to participate in the great economic growth taking place in our city,” said Councilman Maynard, who is sponsoring the legislation. “Along with initiatives like the Barnes Trust Fund for Affordable Housing and grants to help small businesses, this program further builds on our efforts to make sure all Nashvillians have opportunities for success.”

Through its diversity business enterprise program, Music City Center achieved 30 percent participation from small and disadvantaged businesses, well above the 20 percent goal, with a total $133 million spent with these businesses. The workforce program trained more than 1,400 workers from Davidson County and put over 400 to work at the Music City Center construction site.

“I am proud of the progress we have made to promote the inclusion of small and disadvantaged businesses, from creating Metro’s Procurement Nondiscrimination Program in 2008 to the success at Music City Center,” Mayor Dean said. “This legislation is another step forward to level the playing field for all businesses when it comes to projects that include Metro participation. When small and minority businesses prosper, our city and our economy prosper.”

The percentage of business Metro does with small, minority and women-owned businesses has nearly doubled since 2007, when small and disadvantaged businesses received 17.74 percent of total contract dollars spent by Metro. In 2008, Mayor Dean, with strong support from the Metro Council, established a Procurement Nondiscrimination Program, overseen by a new office of Minority and Women Business Assistance. The program has proved successful. During Fiscal Year 2012, Metro spent $182 million with small and disadvantaged businesses owners at the prime and subcontract level, which represents 30 percent of total dollars spent by Metro.

During the last five years, Metro has spent some $506 million with small, minority and women-owned businesses, with 22 percent of Metro’s total procurement spending being with such businesses. Under Metro’s Procurement Nondiscrimination Program, the number of certified minority and women-owned businesses has increased from 30 to more than 450, and the number of registered small businesses has increased from 315 to more than 700.

My Comment: This is what this really means. There will be a "set aside" for minority or women-owned businesses, not only for Metro projects but for private projects than get any Metro "participation." So if HCA accepts the Metro funds to build a new office building or the parking garage connected to the new office building, they have to comply.  If a new hotel is build downtown and they use tax increment financing, they have to comply.  So, instead of the developer awarding a contract  to a bidder who has the best track record and offers the lowest price they must make sure they have meet their quota of contracts awarded to minority-owned or women-owned businesses. 

If you think about it, this is really racist and sexist.  It says that minorities and women can't compete on their own merits; they are simply inferior to other providers of the same service and must be given a preference. 

This also invites corruption and abuse.  A  married couple in business for themselves will claim the wife owns the business in order to get the preference. White contractors with a Black subcontractor will let the Black subcontractor become the primary contractor and they will become the subcontractor to increase their chance of being awarded a contract. The Council should vote against this legislation.

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