Mayor Fischer signs Executive Order creating task force to promote equity through supplier diversity
Louisville Metro Government estimates that more than $5 billion will be invested locally in public and private capital infrastructure investments over the next five years, including projects from the city, MSD, Louisville Gas & Electric Company and others. Mayor Fischer wants to see more MFDBEs – minority, female, disabled, and LGBT business enterprises as defined in the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinance 37.66 – involved in that work.
The Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force will establish ambitious and achievable goals and timetables to increase the level of expenditure with those businesses.
“Our goal is to become a city where racial equity and justice are a reality in the daily lives of all Louisvillians,” Mayor Fischer said. “To do that, we must address the unconscionable wealth gap that exists between Black and white America in our city, as it does throughout our country.”
Nationally, according to the Brookings Institution, “At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016.”
Locally, only 2.4% of Louisville’s businesses are Black- owned, while the city’s population is 22% Black.
“Given our demographics, we should have nearly 10 times the number of Black-owned businesses that we have today,” the Mayor said. “Louisville needs initiatives like Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force because what we’ve seen is that talent and potential are equally spread throughout our city, but opportunity and access are not. It’s critical that we support MFDBEs and ensure they have access to contracting opportunities that can give them the chance to grow and build community wealth in a more equitable way.”
The task force will be led by co-chairs Tony Parrott, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), and Paul W. Thompson, CEO and President of LG&E and KU Energy. Both MSD and LG&E and KU Energy have a significant history of promoting supplier diversity through their own procurement policies.
“As MSD spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on projects like the Waterway Protection Tunnel, we require contractors to hire specific numbers of minority subcontractors and commit to using local labor on construction projects,” Parrott said. “In the last 5 years, MSD has awarded over $160 million in contracts to minority- and women-owned firms. We also assist minority firms bidding as prime contractors. I am happy to join others in the challenge to create a lasting citywide effort at economic equity.”
“We are pleased to be a part of an effort that has the potential to drive meaningful change for our city and its diverse population,” said Thompson. “The economic future of our region must include a focus on building Black wealth and expanding other diverse businesses. By focusing our efforts on improving supplier diversity for large capital projects, we can help accelerate change.”
The Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force’s work will include developing a Local Labor Utilization guideline to be implemented by local companies, with commitments to make good faith efforts to employ maximum possible local labor.
The Task Force will solicit input from and collaborate with local businesses, business organizations, labor unions, human resources organizations, supplier diversity organizations, and others who work daily in this area. These organizations have committed to joining the Task Force, with the following representatives:
- Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (Tony Parrott)
- LG&E and KU Energy (Paul Thompson)
- Louisville Water Company (Spencer Bruce)
- Louisville Regional Airport Authority (Dan Mann)
- Louisville Metro Housing Authority (Lisa Osanka)
- Louisville Metro Government (Chief Equity Officer Kendall Boyd)
- Louisville Metro Council (Councilwoman Paula McCraney)
- Jefferson County Public Schools (Dr. Marty Polio)
- University of Louisville (Sally Molsberger)
- Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (Secretary Jim Gray)
- Louisville Urban League (Sadiqa Reynolds)
- One West (Evon Smith)
The Task Force will also establish a Workforce Development Subcommittee to include representatives from KentuckianaWorks, Labor, and Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI).
“As the COVID pandemic and the protests for racial justice have demonstrated, there are significant racial disparities that exist in our community,” said Chief Equity Officer Kendall Boyd. “Whether it’s disparities in health, education, employment, or legacy wealth, there are steps that Louisville Metro must take to ensure that gaps do not grow. When local governments and quasi-governmental organizations take intentional steps to provide equity opportunities to MFDBE firms, the result is significant, positive economic outcomes for the entire community. As we work to correct historical injustice and discrimination, Louisville Metro Government and this Task Force must be the leaders, ensuring that supplier diversity and other community wealth-building efforts are fully instituted and completed.”
Councilwoman Paula McCraney said, “I applaud the city for taking intentional steps to bringing the often-overlooked power of procurement into the spotlight. I am honored to serve on a task force with the stated purpose of developing labor utilization guidelines and clear procurement policies with well-developed goals and accurate tracking and reporting to help reduce economic inequality and disparities in minority, female, disabled and Black-owned businesses. Our concentrated efforts should increase utilization of and investment in minority companies and create a multiplier economic effect to help grow our local economy.”
The Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force will hold its first meeting later this month. The Task Force chairs will schedule meetings on at least a bi-monthly basis over the next six months and establish sub-committees as needed. An initial report with preliminary recommendations will be submitted to the Mayor by December 31, 2020.