The results of the 2019 East Baton Rouge City-Parish disparity study were recently released at a meeting of the City-Parish's Metro Council. The upshot of the study is a finding of underutilization for minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned business enterprises.
The study looked at around 11,000 contracts awarded by the City-Parish during the period from 2013 to 2017, and found that based on availability, 21 percent of City-Parish contract dollars could be expected to go to minority- and woman-owned businesses (MWBEs), while in fact only 4 percent of contracts went to MWBEs during that period. The study also found that the corresponding availability figure for veteran-owned businesses (VOBs) was 8 percent, while only 1 percent of contracts went to VOBs during the time period.
To remedy these disparities, the study made a number of recommendations. These include developing a full-fledged disadvantaged business program that can provide its own certifications, and which is funded at adequate levels in order to provide for staff competency and technology usage, expanding bidding requirement thresholds for goods and materials contracts, and opening up new programs through which disadvantaged businesses can access the lines of credit they need to be competitive.
Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge, was quoted in a press release as saying that her administration "made the study a priority and now we can progress as a community."
Read a draft executive summary of the disparity study at https://www.keenindependent.com/baton-rouge-disparity-study/. For more information, see also https://www.brla.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=414.