Leveling the playing field for minority-owned businesses

By: Erika Davis

Last month, Mayor Briley signed into law Nashville’s first ever Equal Business Opportunity Program.  The city’s program is set to increase the number of government contracts for women and minority-owned businesses. When Mayor Briley signed the legislation into law he was surrounded by three council members who co-sponsored the bill. Councilmember-at-Large Sharon Hurt was one of the co-sponsors. With the law officially in place, Hurt foresees this as an opportunity for the city to be more inclusive.

“I think its an opportunity for the city of Nashville to improve the playing ground and for minority and women-owned businesses to partake in some of the wealth that we see all over this city in recent years, said Hurt.”  “I am excited that this has been provided to our community.”

“I was involved from the very beginning. In making sure that the city of Nashville recognizes the talents, skills and the commitment from small and minority businesses that are in the city of Nashville,” said Hurt.  “It has been one of my major focuses since joining the council, so I think that I’ve been an advocate and a proponent of this legislation from the very day.”

The results of a 2017 Metro commissioned disparity study, were released last year. This study was conducted by Griffin and Strong, PC. The study exposed the lack of opportunities and obstacle that women and minority-owned businesses face to receive Metro contracts. The study sparked Hurt to act quickly in helping to make sure the playing field was leveled for women and minority-owned businesses moving forward.

“In terms of my role in the disparity study, part of my responsibility was to advocate for equity and inclusion and make sure that voices from my community were heard,” Hurt Said.  “I am vice chair of the Minority Caucus which doesn’t automatically put you in all of those meetings, but for me, it’s a role I take seriously and I wanted to make sure my input was there. That’s also why I am a co-sponsor of the legislation.”

Now that the Equal Business Opportunity Program has been signed into law, minority and women business owners will not have to fear whether or not the city will start to slack on the support. Hurt wants to make sure that all women and minority business owners are aware of the city of Nashville will be held accountable.

“We are working on the process to make sure there is enforcement activity, and we will be looking,” said Hurt.” We are going to be watchdogs behind this legislation. We don’t want something that just looks good and sounds good. We need for it to feel good! That means tangible improvements in the way Nashville does business.”

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