Memphis Mayor admits to mistake in State of the City address

Mayor admits to mistake in contract stats

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration is backpedaling over how much money the city actually spends with minority and women-owned businesses.

“When I took office, just 12 percent of city contracting dollars went to minority-owned and women businesses,” said Strickland. “I’m proud to report that when we closed our most recent fiscal year, we doubled that to 24 percent."

While the first part of that statement from Mayor Strickland’s State of the City address was correct, the second part was not.

The city doubled down on that notion with a tweet saying they saw a 98 percent increase in minority and women-owned businesses, or MWBEs.

“That’s a lot of money and looking at all the data we had, I knew that wasn’t possible,” said Sam Hardiman, Memphis Business Journal.

Memphis Business Journal reporter Sam Hardiman reported on the error Thursday, saying the city was using bad data.

Leaving out nearly $155 million dollars in the overall budget for fiscal year 2018 skewed the numbers.

So in actuality, MWBE spending dropped from 21 to 18 percent last year.

Strickland released a statement saying, "by no means does this clerical mistake take away all the good we have done."

"I don't think it's something we all need to be alarmed by," said Mark Yates.

Mark Yates and Roby Williams with the Black Business Association say for every $100 the city spends in minority contracting, about 83 cents goes to minorities or women.

They say this administration is committed to changing that.

"What I respect most about this administration is they're intentional of making this happen. They've been intentional of engaging minority business enterprise. They've been intentional about reaching out to us," said Williams.

“Last year, the city actually spent $51 million with minority businesses. That’s a 9 million increase, equal to about 20 percent, but it’s not the 98 percent the city was claiming,” said Hardiman

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