Draft reports of two major studies released today shine light on how the City and Portland Development Commission (PDC) award construction contracts. The studies show that while the City does a solid job of employing women and minority-owned businesses, the PDC falls short and does not work with as many women and minority-owned businesses as it could.
Both the PDC and the City are responsible for hiring construction companies for millions of dollars in projects annually—everything from pouring the cement for bioswales to building new affordable housing. And both the PDC and City have policies mandating that they commit to hiring women and minority-owned businesses, since the vast majority of contracts have historically gone to white-male-owned companies. In 2009, Mayor Adams tasked Housing Commissioner Nick Fish with looking into hiring rates and his office paid a Denver-based firm
- The Bud Clark Commons (which I just toured yesterday) was a city and PDC-funded project that awarded 18% of its construction dollars to women and minority-owned businesses.
Or, because I rarely understand economics when it's not in the form of food metaphors: How much of the construction-money pie should be going to minority and women-owned businesses? And how much is actually going to them?
The City got good marks: On its contracts, women and minority-owned businesses got more of the pie than expected given the number of those businesses available. But the PDC's contracts had a significant disparity: Minority and women-owned businesses were employed less often than expected. Check out a snapshot of the results below the cut.
First, the City's stats.
MBE = Minority-owned business
WBE = Women-owned business
And the PDC figures: