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The City of San Antonio is seeking feedback on a new Business Disparities Study for the San Antonio, Texas Market Area Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 at 6 p.m. at 1901 South Alamo Street, San Antonio, 78204. Citizens wishing to be heard must sign up on site prior the hearing start time.

The City of San Antonio has made significant progress in creating opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, but barriers related to race and gender remain, according to a new disparity study. The study, conducted by Dr. Jon Wainwright, Senior Vice President of National Economic Research Associates, reviewed the outcomes of the City’s Small Business Economic Development Advocacy (SBEDA) Program, which provides preferences for certified small, minority- and women-owned businesses when bidding for City contracts.

The study found that the City paid more than $343 million in contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses during the three-year study period, more than double the amount in the previous disparity study in 2010. The SBEDA program has allowed the City to reach or come close to reaching most of its contracting goals for minority- and women-owned businesses. Utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses increased to 23% from 16%, representing a nearly 50% increase.

While the City has made progress, the study’s results suggest that disparity still exists in City contracting. The availability of minority- and women-owned businesses in San Antonio is greater than the previous disparity study indicated. The study found that minority- and women-owned businesses make up nearly 43% of all available firms for City contracting. This calculation, which is the result of a more comprehensive methodology than was used in the previous disparity study, reflects the number of firms who do not seek SBEDA certification but are, in fact, minority- or women-owned.

The study also identified disparities in the broader San Antonio marketplace. Minority- and women-owned business owners earn less. Also, minorities and women are less likely to start businesses and have greater difficulty accessing capital.

The study suggests that these barriers related to race and gender support the continuation of the City’s SBEDA program. The City is initiating an extensive public comment period to receive feedback on the disparity study. The Small Business Advocacy Committee will host a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 at the Cliff Morton Development and Business Services Center located at 1901 South Alamo. The San Antonio City Council will receive a briefing on the disparity study during the Nov. 18 B Session and will consider adoption of the study on Dec. 3. Starting in January 2016, the City will consider potential amendments to the SBEDA program in order to address the study’s findings and to identify potential ways to continue to effectively address these disparities. City Council will be briefed on the proposed amendments to the SBEDA program in February 2016, followed by a City Council vote on policy options in March 2016.