The City of Toledo Releases M/WBE Disparity Study

Toledo does an excellent job in utilizing women and minority owned businesses.

Source : Contractor News

November 11, 2022

Author : Patty Allen

When it comes to encouraging and providing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, the city of Toledo in Ohio, does an excellent job. However, room for improvement does exist.

The Toledo administration commissioned a Disparity Study last year, which concluded that the city provides close to equitable access to public contracts in the marketplace.

A press conference marking the completion of the study was held at One Government Center recently.

Griffin & Strong P.C., a legal and public policy firm based in Atlanta, Georgia conducted the disparity study. 

This firm has extensive experience in disparity research, program development, and supplier diversity consulting. This was the first disparity study that Toledo has ever conducted. The study cost the city a whopping $350,000.

The disparity study also explores  what remedial solutions should be incorporated to provide fair access to federal and state funding for small businesses. Disparity studies can help policymakers determine if government contracting processes are bereft of racial or gender biases.

The Mayor of Toledo, Wade Kapszukiewicz, said, “This is the first time we have a playbook for achieving our goal of making sure the City of Toledo's procurement policies are as strong as they can be. This is an important work, and there are a lot of leaders in the community interested who want to see its success.”

While conducting the disparity study, the research group contacted potential business owners to discuss the bidding process, undertook legal and statistical analyses, examined existing policies and procedures, and interviewed city staff. 

“What people may have thought, speculated, or was an urban legend, now we can sort out and hear the facts. We can put any assumptions to rest,” Mr. DeBerry said.

The research for this Disparity Study involved getting connected with potential business owners. Its officials discussed the bidding process, legal and statistical analyses, examinations of policies and procedures, and interviews with city staff. 

Upon completion of the Disparity study, 12 recommendations were suggested for the city. Some of these have already been implemented by the city of Toledo. These are-

  • Hire additional staff to accommodate the new programs related to procurement services 
  • Develop new economic development loan programs. 
  • Adopting a small business shelter program that would define a threshold of contracts for which only small businesses are eligible to bid, eliminating the competitive disadvantage
  • "unbundling" bids that enable smaller businesses to compete with larger firms.

“We are excited because it's the inaugural disparity study,” said Lacy DeBerry III, director of Toledo's diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, which oversaw the study on behalf of the administration. “It’s never been done before, and that always lends excitement around the community, as it’s been much anticipated.”

Councilwoman Tiffany Whitman is committed to following the study's findings, which she says will benefit the city in establishing a diverse workforce.

 “It is important for the government to reach out and make sure that we have a fair bidding operation and that people that offer services have an opportunity to bid on their services and what they can do for the city,” explained councilman George Sarantou.

Toledo City Council met to begin a public discussion on the initiative in anticipation of an action plan, which should be completed in March.  

Category : Minority Business Enterprises Minority Women Business Enterprises Women Business Enterprises Disparity Studies Diversity Outreach Local Government

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