City to reveal results of disparity study

BY THE SLICE: While draft results from an analysis of city of Asheville contracting over a recent five-year period showed that woman- and minority-owned businesses received over 10 percent of the contract dollars available, 8.8 percent of that money went to businesses owned by white women. Graphic courtesy of the city of Asheville

The city of Asheville launched a disparity study in June 2017 to measure how much of the municipality’s contracting and purchasing pie woman- and minority-owned businesses are being served. The results will be dished up for City Council’s consumption on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and to the public at two community meetings on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

The study’s results will replace conclusions from the last such examination, which was undertaken in 1993 — in other words, fully a quarter of a century ago.

Draft results presented to City Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee on Nov. 12 showed that $12.3 million of the $118 million in city contracts awarded July 1, 2012-June 30, 2017, went to woman- and minority-owned businesses — a total of 10.4 percent. However, 8.8 percent of those contract awards went to businesses owned by white women, with the remaining 1.6 percent divided among businesses owned by Asian, black, Hispanic and Native Americans of both genders.

Presentation slides shown to the Council members who make up the PED Committee, Gwen Wisler, Julie Mayfield and Vijay Kapoor, at the Nov. 12 meeting posited that utilization below 80 percent of available minority business capacity indicates a substantial disparity. By that measure, native-owned businesses fared the worst, with only 2 percent utilization. Asian American businesses were 5 percent, and black-owned businesses 22 percent, utilized. Hispanic and white-woman-owned businesses both significantly exceeded the 80 percent threshold.

The study’s final results will be presented to City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and to the community in two sessions on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Linwood Crump Shiloh Center, 121 Shiloh Road. The two sessions will take place 6-7 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. According to a city press release, interpretive services and care for children 5 and older will be provided at the community sessions.

Information about contracting opportunities with the city will also be provided at the community sessions, with representatives from the city’s Capital Projects, Communication & Public Engagement, Equity, General Services, Minority Business, Parks & Recreation, Purchasing and Water Resources departments in attendance.

More information is available at


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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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