Gwinnett County to Check for S/M/WBE Disparities

Gwinnett County has a population of nearly one million people.

July 4, 2023

Author : Patty Allen

This year, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners has made a budget of nearly $500,000 for a research project examining the proportion of the County's contracts granted to businesses owned by minorities and women. 

Nicole Love Hendrickson, the commission chairwoman, said, "We are a very diverse County with a lot of minority businesses, a lot of international businesses." 

Hendrickson stated that a comprehensive disparity study would take 18 months to complete. 

An important and practical suggestion has been that the County could divide more contracts into smaller parts to give small minority-owned businesses a better chance.

Hendrickson began pressing for the study two years ago. She explained that the county government has been working on a broader equity plan and has trained department managers on the related concepts.

The County doesn't know how many of its contracts or what proportion of purchasing dollars will go to minority or women-owned businesses since Gwinnett has never conducted such a disparity study. 

Disparity studies have become a legal prerequisite, and many local, state, and federal agencies are undertaking them to create a more equitable and fair contracting process.

But this is not the first instance when Atlanta has taken a positive step to eradicate racial and gender prejudices.

Atlanta's city government began to receive praise for its affirmative action contracting policies in the 1970s under then-Mayor Maynard Jackson. Jackson prevented the airport expansion that now bears his name in Atlanta until 25 percent of the construction contracts were awarded to minority-owned enterprises. In 1978, nearly 39% of the city's contracts were awarded to minority-owned businesses.

The vast Rowen research park currently under construction in eastern Gwinnett, which is publicly funded but managed by a non-profit foundation, aims to allocate 30% of all funds spent on contractors and vendors to small, minority- and women-owned businesses.

Category : Disparity Studies Local Government

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