Comprehensive Disparity Study Completed

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
[email protected]
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Comprehensive Disparity Study Completed

Posted: 11/02/2023
On Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, the City and its consultant will present the findings of a comprehensive Disparity Study, which aims to identify ways to make it easier for small businesses and those owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans and persons with disabilities to compete for and be awarded City contracts.

The public meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6, at the Public Works Service Center, 3131 Morris Ave. 

The analysis and recommendations by Miller3 Consulting can be found here:

The Disparity Study, requested by Mayor Indya Kincannon and approved by City Council, was the first such top-to-bottom analysis in 25 years.

Over 21 months, almost 50 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) owners were interviewed one-on-one by Miller3 or participated in group discussions. Another 3,284 DBE business owners were contacted and asked to participated in surveys.

“I’m very pleased that we took this initiative,” Kincannon said. “Bolstered with current data, national expertise and extensive business community input, I am prepared to take steps to make it easier for DBEs to attain a bigger share of City contracts.”

For small companies, opportunities to grow and prosper are significant. The City awards contracts totaling about $110 million each year.

The City has always prioritized helping local businesses and DBEs compete for City contracts. 

The Small Business and Diversity Outreach Office communicates with DBEs about contracts coming up for bid and offers assistance in preparing proposals. Sometimes strategies are suggested, such as pairing up with other companies to be able to better compete jointly for a large contract. Goals for contracting with DBEs are set annually for each City department.

The Miller3 report, in essence, recommends doubling down on these outreach efforts – and then some.

“Identifying and addressing disparities in how the City does business in our community is a priority for all of us,” Mayor Kincannon said. “Miller3 is recommending specific, tangible actions that we can and will take that will affect change for the better.

“For example, we can and will increase the training and technical assistance that City staff and partner agencies provide to DBEs. We can and will better communicate to DBEs when small contracts are coming up for bid. And we can and will advise City department heads earlier in the fiscal year of where they stand in terms of doing business with DBEs, to encourage them to take additional steps if they are not meeting their DBE goals.”

Miller3 recommends immediate and short-term actions, and monitoring how much progress is being made. Longer-range more intensive actions – for example, requiring prime contractors to show proof of their good-faith efforts to privately hire DBE subcontractors – should follow if the initial actions do not result in more contracts with DBEs.

The study is focused only on increasing the amount of business the City conducts with DBEs and correcting business disparities that may exist. It does not address larger geographic or private commercial disparity issues that are beyond the scope of City of Knoxville government – as examples, where retail stores have chosen to locate, or how medical services are distributed throughout the community.