Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nashville Airport Authority considers dropping minority contract program

The Tennessean reports in this article that the Nashville Airport Authority may suspend a program that encourages minority contract work at the facility, for fear of legal challenges. The airport is on the verge of a multi-million dollar renovation project.

"The authority will consider temporarily suspending a program that has set annual goals for small, minority-owned and female-owned businesses to get a share of airport business. Last year, the goal was 6.29 percent of contracts awarded, and airport officials said the final numbers came in closer to 20 percent."

"Last year, that program resulted in $1.5 million of $7.9 million in airport contracts funded locally going to the targeted categories. Airport officials said female-owned firms saw the biggest gains."

"Under the airport's program, contractors on local projects have been encouraged — though not required — to use small, female- and minority-owned firms to help them complete portions of construction, renovation or service contracts. Small, minority- and female-owned firms also have been encouraged to bid directly."

"But such initiatives have been under attack from the white, male-dominated construction industry in the courts for the better part of two decades, and airport officials say they have been worried about being caught up in similar legal challenges here since at least last summer."

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