Is old computer system keeping minority companies from getting work in Shelby County?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An older Shelby County computer system isn’t updating the number of minority-owned contractors in the area.

Currently, commissioners are not sure if groups are being left out, so they’re putting the IT team on notice to get it fixed.

Remember when Henri Brooks said this?

“To allow and out of town company to come in and change the value of this community. It’s disrespectful of the black community.”

Politically correct or not, it really could be a problem in Shelby County.

The same companies, many of which are minority participants, keep getting the contracts because the county computer system isn’t keeping track of which minority-owned companies aren’t getting a slice of the pie.

Commission Chair James Harvey said, “Consequently, today fast forward, we get commissioners fighting and bickering all the time over who are the minorities?¬† Who is running the contracts?”

Fixing the problem requires research and money.

If it’s not done, the same crews will keep getting county contracts.

“If you look in the telephone book, there are thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of businesses. But we have a very small pool of businesses that are coming forward to do business with county government,” Harvey said.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the Locally Owned Small Business Initiative currently keep track with who’s doing business with the county, but can’t get minority information on county computers.

Harvey said they need to know, “Who they are, what size they are, what gender they are, what race they are.”

Commissioners also need that information for contract decisions, like the Hispanic roofing contract  that stirred up all the controversy.

Harvey said,¬† “Even if some of the small businesses decide for some reason they did not want to participate, from a knowledge perspective, they understand that the opportunities do exist.”



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