Equity in Focus: Why Columbus Needs to Prioritize Black Businesses

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

The recent proposal by the City of Columbus to modify its certification program, potentially allowing non-citizens to bid on government contracts, raises significant concerns about equity and fairness. This decision, while seemingly inclusive, overlooks a crucial aspect: the persistent disparities in business opportunities for Black entrepreneurs, particularly Black women.

The numbers from the City of Columbus paint a stark picture of these disparities. Currently, Black Men receive 17.33% of the overall spending, while Black Women, who form the backbone of the Democratic Party’s base, receive only 5.72%. In stark contrast, White Women receive 37.34%. The breakdown in sectors like Professional Services, Construction, and Goods & Services is even more telling. For instance, in Construction, Black Women receive a minuscule 0.50%, as opposed to White Women’s 56.58%.

This data isn’t just a collection of statistics; it reflects the ongoing systemic barriers faced by Black business owners, particularly women. The potential inclusion of non-citizens in the city’s certification program seems to diverge from the intended purpose of these initiatives. The key question here is whether the disparity study, commissioned to guide equitable procurement, recommends the inclusion of non-citizens. If it does not, then why is the focus shifting away from a demographic that has historically faced, and continues to face, significant hurdles?

The City’s certification programs were established as a response to the Civil Rights Movement, a struggle predominantly led by Black Americans. These programs are meant to be corrective measures for past discrimination, yet, as the current scenario reveals, they seem to be benefiting White households predominantly. The consideration to further extend these benefits to non-citizens before adequately addressing the needs of Black businesses is problematic.

It’s crucial that we prioritize Black entrepreneurs, especially women, who have long been at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. The City of Columbus has a responsibility to ensure that the efforts and sacrifices of Black Americans for equal rights honored by providing equitable opportunities to their descendants. This means reassessing current policies and making concrete changes that reflect a genuine commitment to rectifying historical injustices.

Our community must speak up and advocate for policies that recognize the unique challenges faced by Black business owners. This is not just about inclusivity; it’s about justice and honoring the legacy of those who fought for equal rights. The City’s procurement policies should be a reflection of this commitment, ensuring that those who have been historically marginalized are given priority in the path towards economic equality and success.

just my thoughts…rwb

The numbers referenced are from: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/columbus/viz/ODISupplierScorecard/ExternalScorecard


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