Mayor, community leaders support formation of a diversity-themed political action committee

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By ERICA DAVIS | Nashville Voice

Residents have noticed that Nashville is growing fast. Businesses are booming in the music city but when it comes to minority and women-owned businesses, Nashville will need some improvement. In fact, the recent release of a city-funded disparity study conducted by Griffin and Strong Law Firm from 2013-2017, shows that Nashville is lacking in the range of business owners that it conducts business.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, the study found that of the nearly $3 billion worth of Metro prime contracts reviewed, 16.54 percent of those taxpayer dollars went to minority and women-owned businesses. That amounts to roughly $480 million out of $2.9 billion pool. To read the full study, click here.

Nashville Mayor David Briley acknowledge the findings of the study back in September, saying: “The (study), which is being presented to Council today, confirms there are disparities in the participation of those firms in the city’s procurement process. These results, while not surprising, are unacceptable,” he said. “As I talk about often, my administration is committed to ensuring all Nashvillians can equitably participate in our city’s success and growth. … I have directed my administration to work with community, business and Metro stakeholders to take these steps.”

On Thursday, Nov. 1, Briley, members of his administration and community leaders all converged at Swett’s Restaurant in North Nashville for the creation of the Nashville Business Alliance, a new political action committee called together to help increase the number of women-owned and minority-owned businesses who work with local government.

The committee is currently being spearheaded by Michael Carter, a co-founder of Pinnacle Construction Partners; Jacky Akbari, board chairwoman of the National Organization for Workforce Diversity; Lee Molette, CEO of Molette Investment Services; Turner Nashe, senior vice president of education services at Innertainment Delivery Systems/Global Tel*Link; Jerry Maynard, CEO of The Maynard Group; and Harvey Hoskins, co-founder of Hoskins and Co. PC.

At the event, Mayor Briley both acknowledged the city’s explosive growth within the past seven years and reaffirmed his commitment to doing his part to helping women-owned and minority-owned businesses in the city thrive.

Ashford Hughes, who serves as the Mayor’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Metropolitan Davidson Government, echoed the importance of having the disparity study conducted and weighed in on how Metro Government plans to use its findings.

“Conducting studies like this one are important to see if Metro Government’s programs are in good faith effort,” says Hughes. “This study gives us the specific numbers available.”

Maynard, owner of The Maynard Group and former city councilman, said he believes the support and leadership from Briley is going to be helpful in pushing forward the mission to increase women and minority-owned businesses.

“The mayor is critical; if the Mayor does not show strong leadership as the leader of our city none of this would get done,” Maynard said. “ So Mayor Briley has shown strong leadership now it is important for our community to rally not only behind him but alongside him to make sure that these initiatives of inclusion and equity not only has passed as far as legislation but make sure it happens in real life.”

“This disparity study shows that 6.8 percent of contracts went to women and minority-owned businesses,” he added. “We created the (Nashville Business Alliance) to support the Mayor’s equity and inclusion initiative. We are not going to just stop there, then we are going to go to the private sector and we are going to fight to make sure the private sector that they reflect inclusion and diversity because the private sector is doing worse than Metro Government.”

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