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First, the 1996 study was deeply flawed. If found "disparity" but failed to account for the fact that minority, women, and emerging small businesses are concentrated certain in trades that don't require large amounts of capital: landscapers, painters, reinforcing bar installers, and so on. The question is not whether MWESB's are getting a proper amount of the overall construction dollars but rather whether MWESB's are getting the proper amount of construction dollars within the trades that they are concentrated in.
I actually worked as a consultant in the sheltered market program teaching contractors how to bid and run work. What I found was that most of the firms were not competent. Few if any were run by people that had any formal education or training in construction or business.
Most public construction projects, at the subcontract or trade level, are awarded on the basis of the lowest responsive responsible bid. Discrimination between bidders is based solely on price. The original 1996 study did not and the pending study will not find discrimination on the basis of race or gender. The upcoming study will find a disparity between MWESB's and white male businesses. To find the roots of that problem, turn to Oregon's university engineering and construction programs. You will find those programs dominated by white men, few women and fewer still minorities.
Education, training and access to capital are the main stumbling blocks to MWESB companies succeeding in Oregon, not racial or gender discrimination.
posted 3 years, 4 months ago
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