GUILFORD COUNTY – The Guilford County Board of Commissioners adopted the county’s first official Minority/Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program Policy and Procedure Manual at their regular meeting Thursday, March 2, 2023. The approval of the new policy is the latest in a series of steps the county is taking to strengthen its MWBE program and increase the number of MWBE firms participating in county contracts.
“We want to ensure the spending power of Guilford County is promoting the economic inclusion of all segments of the business population, regardless of race or gender, and the passage of this policy is another step toward expanding economic opportunity to all people,” said Guilford County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin “Skip” Alston. “With today’s actions, we are putting into policy our commitment to ensuring the firms we do business with are equally committed to combatting discrimination in their solicitation, selection, and treatment of their employees, subcontractors, suppliers, vendors and other commercial customers.”
Guilford County’s MWBE Program works to develop and grow Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprises (MWSBE) in the Guilford County market. In pursuit of this goal, the county contracted with Griffin & Strong, P.C. to evaluate whether disparity exists between the number of MWBE firms available to perform work on county contracts and the actual utilization of those firms. The results of the study, shared with the Board of Commissioners in January 2023, affirmed the need for a continuation of the county’s MWBE program and made recommendations to address disparities and improve MWBE participation in county contracts. With passage of the official MWBE Policy and Procedure Manual, the county has implemented two of the study’s key recommendations. The Board previously implemented the study’s recommendation to increase resources and staffing for the MWBE program.
The new official MWBE policy aims to remedy the ongoing effects of marketplace discrimination found to be adversely affecting MWBE participation in Guilford County contracts and support increased participation in county contracts by MWBE firms. It codifies the certification and registration requirements for MWBE firms and includes both mandatory and non-mandatory contracting goals based on the size of the county contract. The policy will sunset in alignment with the five-year disparity study period, at which time the Board will be asked to consider and approve an updated policy in alignment with an updated disparity study. The adoption of the policy ultimately creates consistency, accountability, and clear expectations for staff, the public, and contractors doing business with the County and supports a strong culture of contracting equity and inclusion.
Between December 5, 2022 and March 2, 2023, the Guilford County MWBE team has:
- Presented and gained approval of the county’s Disparity Study
- Gained approval for five new MWBE positions and consulting services
- Processed six contracts totaling $1.1 million, including two contracts in which the MWBE is serving as the prime contractor
- Riott for Change will lead a contract with Every Baby Guilford to reduce infant mortality by increasing racial equity in prenatal care
- Eagle Hammer Construction will lead a contract to install new shade structures at the Guilford County Animal Resource Center
- Both MWBEs are doing business with Guilford County for the first time and are first time HUB MWBE businesses registered by the county
- Worked to strengthen goal setting, compliance and reporting processes
- Drafted and implemented an official MWBE Policy and Procedure Manual
The team is now gearing up to issue a FY 2022 Annual Report for MWBE spend and conduct a gap analysis for prime spend. The MWBE team is also working to increase outreach to MWBE firms and increase transparency and communication of available county contracts.
Guilford County pledges through its MWBE Program to:
- Provide minorities and women equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of Guilford County’s contracting and purchasing programs
- Prohibit discrimination against a person or business in pursuit of these opportunities on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin
- To provide greater information, service, and responsiveness to MWBE’s
- To increase communication between all Guilford County Departments and MWBE’s