Commissioners Pass Historic Minority and Women-owned Business Participation Goals and Policies

Hamilton County Commissioners are advancing equity and economic opportunities for small and diverse businesses by taking action to implement new goals on minority and women-owned business participation. These new policies and procedures are based on business availability data collected during a year-long study into whether racial and gender gaps exist in Hamilton County's contracting and procurement.

"Today is historic and groundbreaking as we take action on the Disparity Study recommendations to be an inclusive County for small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses who have been left behind for decades," said Commission President Alicia Reece who hosted the County's first Black Business Roundtable with close to 100 black-owned businesses.

"We are making good on our promises from when we declared racism a public health crisis in 2020," said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. "For the first time in Hamilton County's history, we are working to address long-standing disparities in how and with whom the county does business."

"We are ringing a bell to signal that Hamilton County is open to all businesses including underutilized small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses," said Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas. "There is real value in diversifying how the County conducts business including increasing competition and cost savings."

Specifically, commissioners approved:

  • A race and gender-conscious program;
  • Annual overall goals for MBE/WBE/SBEs and contract-specific goals on all projects;
  • Inclusion goals in three categories: construction, professional services, and goods and services;
  • Prompt pay requirements with penalties;
  • MBE/WBE/SBEs have the opportunity to match small purchase quotes if they are within 10% of the lowest bidder;
  • All bidders must submit an MBE/WBE/SBE utilization plan or an application for a program waiver;
  • And a non-compliance process with penalties, and a formal appeals process.

The Hamilton County Economic Inclusion and Equity Department recommended these solutions for remedying the underutilization of diverse businesses found in the recent study. Over the past two years, Hamilton County conducted a diversity study to look at $1.3 billion in spending over a 5.5-year period by the Board of County Commissioners' Departments and MSD.

The Disparity Study was part of a July 16, 2020 Resolution by Commissioners declaring 'Racism a Public Health Crisis' in Hamilton County. Beyond striving for health equity, the resolution incorporated concept of equity in all its functions as County Government including a disparity study to ensure the county is conducting business fairly with diverse populations.

Posted on 02/21/2023