The Race and Equity Subcommittee of Gainesville had a meeting Tuesday where it decided it wanted to change purchasing and procurement policies to reflect the demographics of the community. The subcommittee concluded that its staff needs to have recommendations of how to reach this goal within 90 days of the meeting.
The City of Gainesville spent over $91 million in goods and services last fiscal year, with less than 1% of it spent on minority-owned businesses and less than 4% of it spent on women-owned businesses, according to City Commissioner Gail Johnson.
Johnson said she would like to see equal representation of all ethnicities and genders within five years, but the process may involve a disparity study and community engagement.
“The goal of this meeting was to understand what the real data is, so that we could work towards coming up with strategies that can help us to correct the larger problem,” Johnson said.
Entrepreneur and President of Washington Concepts Inc. Cynthia Washington moved here two years ago as a part of her husband’s journey to help the city of Gainesville. Her husband is a pastor, and Washington Concepts Inc. is a company that helps businesses improve themselves economically. Washington says she has waited since she moved here to present her thoughts on improving diversity in Gainesville but was let down.
“My presentation was ‘I know what you can do now. I’m actually implementing it around the nation, and it’s working and we’re getting results.’ They’re never going to see results from looking at studies because government does studies without an end result,” Washington said.
City Commissioner David Arreola said the Race and Equity Subcommittee is starting the effort to establish more diversity among Gainesville’s businesses but needs support from the people of Gainesville to successfully do so.
“We want to see if it’s changes that we need to make in our specific regulations and policy,” Arreola said, “or if it’s changes that we need to make in terms of being proactive and getting out and actually reaching out to the private sector.”