Citibank, Bank of America, and The Ford Foundation are among some of the non-profit and commercial entities funding an effort to make Nashville more inclusive when handing out city contracts to women-and-minority-owned businesses.
Those entities fund a New York City-based philanthropy called Living Cities.
Living Cities recently bestowed 10 U.S. cities with grants, including Nashville. With this money, Living Cities have tasked Nashville officials with making extra efforts to hire women and minorities for city contracts, said Ashford Hughes, Metro Nashville’s chief diversity and equity officer.
Hughes said his job is to make sure the city’s policies and practices don’t exclude women and members of all races and religions. He also told The Tennessee Star that Metro officials will not use this money to hire women and minorities just for the sake of hiring them — at the expense of hiring the most qualified person or people for the job.
“You have to look at it in a more nuanced manner. Nothing is guaranteeing anyone a contract,” Hughes said.
“What this is guaranteeing is that there will be a level playing field and that now these vendors will have a fair opportunity to at least get their foot in the door.”
Hughes said a recent study showed “race and gender played a role in contractors not receiving a level playing field in Metro procurement.”
“We know these businesses can perform like small white male-, white women -owned businesses,” Hughes said.
“What this will do is set a goal-based program based on the market availability in our region to say we should meet these numbers using diverse vendors and why are we not meeting those numbers? Is it just because they can’t do the business or because they are not showing up? What is the reason we are not meeting diverse goals?”
Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht (pictured above) told The Star that 15 U.S. cities, including Nashville, competed for this grant money.
“A problem smaller companies managed by people of color have is that if they get a million-dollar contract then they don’t have the working capital to go out and buy all of the equipment and materials and then wait 60 days for the city to pay them back. The contracting process can be really long. It’ll put a small business person out of business,” Hecht said.
Hecht said officials in other cities loan money to contractors who don’t have working capital.
“The payments are going to come, and they will go to pay back the loan, but it puts the small business contractor on a more equal playing field,” Hecht said.
“The loan is secured by the contract with the city, so the payments are going to go to pay back the loan. It basically puts the small contractor on a more equal playing field with the larger one.”
Other philanthropies involved with Living Cities include The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, according to Living Cities’ website.
Private companies funding Living Cities also include Wells Fargo, Prudential Financial, Morgan Stanley, and MetLife.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based ActivistFacts.com, members of the Ford Foundation have a left-wing agenda.
The Washington, D.C.-based Capitalresearch.org, meanwhile, said members of the The W.K. Kellogg Foundation donate “to trendy left-wing causes, including the racist polemicists of Black Lives Matters and other radical groups promoting open borders with Mexico.”
According to Influencewatch.org, The MacArthur Foundation has donated to Planned Parenthood, the Population Council, the Carter Center, ProPublica, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Fund, ClimateWorks, and International Crisis Group.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Ben Hecht” by Living Cities and “Ashford Hughes” by Ashford Hughes.