Shelby County Relaunches Minority- and Women-Owned Business Program

On Monday, Shelby County amended and prepared to relaunch its program to support minority- and women-owned businesses in a deal with the government, bringing back a program suspended in November 2020.

The county suspended the program after being sued by a group of contractors who claimed it discriminated against white-owned businesses.

Now, armed with data showing the county has a legal basis to prioritize businesses that are 51 percent minority- or women-owned, the program is poised to return so the county can commit to “using its spending power in a manner that promotes a robust and inclusive economy that fully utilizes all segments of its business population, regardless of race or gender,” said the resolution approved Monday.

“This will be a very important step in restarting this program,” said Commissioner Van Turner, one of the sponsors of the ordinance. “I think that’s something that all the commissioners want to see again, so we’re happy to work together to make that happen.” I think the public will be very happy with what we are doing. We’re more specific with this program and we’re more closely aligned with what they’re doing in the state and the city, so I think there’s going to be additional support for the success of this program.”

Commissioners speak Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, during a meeting of the Shelby County Commission at the Wasco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building in downtown Memphis.

Commissioners approved the third and final reading of the ordinance to amend their program policies unanimously.

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The Office of Equal Opportunity Compliance is now tasked with adopting rules and procedures to implement the program, creating and disseminating a directory of certified minority- and women-owned businesses, ensuring that bids and proposals adhere to public procurement procedures procurement and oversee all major contracts with minority- and women-owned business targets.

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