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South Bend conducts WMBE disparity study on city contracts

NOW: South Bend conducts WMBE disparity study on city contracts

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The City of South Bend is conducting a study that will possibly show disparities in city contracts being awarded to minority and women owned enterprises.

Christina Brooks, with the City of South Bend, said this is the first time a study has been conducted in South Bend. She said it is a pretty big moment for the city.

“Making sure that people that have been disregarded and unvoiced for a long time finally have a seat at the table, and finally have a say in their own economic destiny,” she said.

The disparity study will examine “whether all firms have equal access to contracting opportunities on the City of South Bend’s prime contracts and associated subcontracts.” The study will be done in two stages:

  • “It will examine statistical evidence of the city’s utilization of WMBEs and the availability of these businesses as a percentage of all firms in the city’s market area and relevant industries,”
  • “It will gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination…”

Marvin Crayton has told Brooks about his experience with the city’s bidding process. He said he had to shut down his construction company because it was too tough.

“Things just got tough for all the contractors, for me, of course,” he said.

South Bend District 6 Councilman Oliver Davis said this study is necessary in order to heal a wound that’s been present in the city for years.

“Some groups have been fed more than others and we want to make sure that we use our public tax dollars to feed the entire table,” Davis said.

Brooks said the study group from Colette Holt and Associates will look at more than 200 city contracts awarded to local contractors for the first stage of the study. However, she said the most important part of the study is the stories told by current and past WMBEs.

“Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the numbers,” she said. “We realize that people are associated with those numbers, families are associated with those numbers family legacies are associated with those numbers.”

Davis said the study will help the city understand who has not been awarded contracts within the city, and then they can put together remedies to make sure everyone has opportunity.

“If they do what they say they’re going to do, it’d be okay,” Crayton said. “The administration has to be behind it.”

 If you have stories you’d like to share about your experience with city bidding, e-mail southbend-study@mwbelaw.com.

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