By RAUL REGALADO

Published: Tuesday, 10/16/07

Nine months ago, the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority embarked on a disparity study.
The Authority hired the Atlanta-based firm of Griffin & Strong, and asked it to look for ways to broaden and strengthen its existing efforts to build partnerships with small, minority and women-owned businesses.

 

The Authority wanted to do something comprehensive, to go the extra mile, above and beyond similar studies. The Authority wanted a program for its local expenditures to parallel the existing federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.

The Authority believes the study it's now received accomplishes all those objectives, and plans to aggressively implement it.

The study found that while the Authority's previous voluntary efforts have been better than those in the private sector, they did not meet its objective of maximizing opportunities for all who want to do business with the airports.

A proactive approach

One area that the Authority began addressing even before the study was complete involved increasing its outreach efforts.

Under the leadership of Amber Gooding, the director of the Office of Business Diversity Development, the Authority is proactively working with all segments of the community and also doing a comprehensive policy review.

The Authority is committed to making sure that all our policies and procedures help foster an environment that will build successful partnerships with small business and women and minority vendors

So what will this mean for future contracts and projects?

The Authority will look at each opportunity and the specific scope of work involved and will utilize an approved methodology to determine small business, race and gender participation. The Authority's board and management are serious about this commitment. If the Authority's contract partners don't share this commitment, then they won't be our partners any longer.

Watch us, help us

The Authority staff is moving as quickly as possible to implement the study's recommendation. As for the skeptics out there, all I can say is: "Watch us and help us."
If the Authority is not fulfilling its commitment, then let me know. If you have ideas that can be beneficial, please share them.

We are particularly grateful to the local chapters of the Urban League and the NAACP for their interest and participation. We share the same goal — to increase business opportunities for everyone at our airports.

We appreciate their commitment and passion and invite your support as well in the weeks and months ahead.