Shelby Co. agrees to $80K for disparity survey firm - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby Co. agrees to $80K for disparity survey firm

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
SHELBY COUNTY, TN (WMC) -

Shelby County leaders believe they have a fix to make sure women and minority business owners are getting a fair share.

"I think it would be money well spent to the expert who did the study to come in and help with their implementation,” Carolyn Watkins said.

The expert Watkins is referring to is a firm called Mason-Tillman. Shelby County paid them roughly $300,000 to study government contracts.

The study found that Shelby County is awarding a highly disproportionate number of government contract dollars to businesses owned by white men.

The biggest recommendation from the study was to put measures in place to make sure more minority and women-owned businesses are awarded contracts and more contract dollars.

"It's not that we're denying them something they were contracted to do,” Heidi Shafer said. “We are under no contractual obligation with them to do this."

The question was whether to pay the same firm $90,000 to help the county in implementing the recommendations.

"I think it is just the most reasonable thing to do, to look and see at least figure out, whether there is some one local to do, since this is about getting business locally,” Shafer said.

"No local talent stepped up to bid,” Watkins said. “Every company that bid on this RFP came from out of state, no one stepped up."

After a long, sometimes contentious discussion, the commission decided the contract should be for $80,000 instead of $90,000.

"I think that's really what we're fighting for. We're fighting for our dollars to stay here,” Shafer said.

Some commissioners wanted to put off making a final decision.

“I'll take all the blame for everything, but I'll tell you this thing is going to be done right,” Terry Roland said.

Ultimately, the commission voted to award the $80,000 contract to the same firm that conducted the survey.

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