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Columbus City Council to vote on proposed Increase Diversity Program

OH News - Published Jul 07, 2021

Columbus City Council is due to vote in July of 2021 on a proposed slate of contracting reforms referred to as the Increase Diversity Program. The proposed legislation was developed in response to the release of a 2019 diversity study the city conducted, which found statistically significant disparities in contract awards for minority- and woman-owned businesses (MWBEs) relative to their availability.

The legislation incorporates both race- and gender-conscious and race- and gender-neutral policies. The race- and gender-neutral policies include a Small Local Business Enterprise Program, a sheltered market program for certain bids, a policy of unbundling more projects to make them more competitive for smaller businesses, and bond waivers for contracts under $100,000.

The race- and gender-conscious policies in the legislation include, for the first time in Columbus since such goals were struck down by a judge in the 1990s, MWBE participation goals. For construction, those goals will be set at 19 percent for certified MWBEs. There will also be bid discounts in construction of 5 percent up to $50,000 for MWBEs on certain projects. The goals and policies will be based on the results of the 2019 disparity study, with the aim of standing up to judicial review.

"Continued commitment to eliminate disparities and barriers to success - combined with concerted investment in minority business development - yields tremendous outcomes," Jacqueline Neal, CEO of the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council said in a statement.

Read the legislation at https://columbus.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5007926&GUID=080D1174-9D29-4F59-A2C2-A32CBB24FF90&Options=ID%7cText%7c.