A consultant hired by the Richland County suggested that county staff gather a year’s worth of data on the number of businesses certified under the small and local business enterprise program, which would include minority-owned firms, before moving forward with a disparity study.
County council wants to develop the study to measure the number of minority businesses that contract for county work.
“The disparity studies contain a lot of historical data,” said Gloria Tanner, a second consultant on the program. “Unless you solely use what took place before that, so when the [small and local business enterprise] program was established, there’s no data.”
County council members have discussed in previous meetings that minority businesses have complained about a lack of participation in county projects through the procurement department. The study is expected to provide information on participation rates and to determine how council can proceed to increase numbers.
In other committee action:
The committee unanimously approved establishing a goal setting program for the small and local business enterprise division within the Office of Small Business Opportunities. The program would categorize the needs of the transportation penny project to prioritize the businesses that can fill those needs.
The committee unanimously approved giving county staff six months to develop a mentor-protege program that would build the number of certified businesses that can do work with the county. Tanner said the county would need to offer incentives to grow the base of small and local businesses to develop the program.