By Wesley Martin
Many minority business owners were present on Tuesday’s Disparity Study Public Hearing at city hall. During the discussion, individuals voiced concern on being seemingly omitted from city contract allotment.
Coincidentally, the study, led by MGT of America, Inc., is composed to assure that minority-owned businesses are given fair treatment when the city awards contracts. Additionally, reviews of past purchasing/contracting history and evaluating minority-business inclusion are proposed topics in the upcoming study.
Vernetta Mitchell, senior consultant at MGT, said the firm will conduct two focus groups in the near future for the report.
“During those focus groups, [companies] are randomly selected from the city’s vendor list as well as other organizational lists that we’ve received in the area,” she said. “With the first study, you come in and we ask a series of questions to try to gage the city’s procurement processes. Another opportunity is the survey of vendors. This can be made available to you via email.”
Mitchell said the second alternative asks more detailed questions. She also stated the report doesn’t identify participants. The focus groups, personal interviews, and surveys are all anonymous she said.
Vivian D. Bristow, vice president of Managing Milestones, Inc., a construction company, says the city’s miscommunication has stilted her company from successfully competing locally.
“My issue is I have satisfied all of the requirements for certification,” she said. “We have been certified by the state, we’ve been certified by the Florida Department of Transportation and we have been certified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned business. But, I’m unable to receive certification through the city.”
Bristow also added, “I’ve sent documentation to the city and I respond to any questions that they may have for me. And – I’ve been doing that for the past two years.”
Gregory Green has been more successful with the City of Pensacola than Bristow. His company, GB Green Construction, does subcontractor work for many of the city’s projects.
Still, he feels unjustly excluded from many business opportunities with the city.
“I’ve been on several city contracts, but it’s a public illusion that everyone is capable to bid or work on city projects,” Green said. “We are limited.”
Green believes the organizations that receive considerable percentages of bids from the city do so because of their private relationships with city officials. What’s worse? Green believes the city’s lack of follow-up is disregardful.
“No one calls you,” said Green.