Disparity study commends Airport Authority programs — recommends enhancements

Councilman Scott Davis, Davita Taylor, Director of Business Diversity Devolpment program, and Attorney Colette Holt, head of the research firm, discuss the results of the disparity study on Tuesday, June 30, at the Nashville International Airport.

Councilman Scott Davis, Davita Taylor, Director of Business Diversity Devolpment program, and Attorney Colette Holt, head of the research firm, discuss the results of the disparity study on Tuesday, June 30, at the Nashville International Airport.

The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA) has released results of its comprehensive, independently conducted disparity study that measures the effectiveness of the Authority’s Small, Minority and Woman-owned Business Enterprise (SMWBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs in relation to the diversity of the region’s business market since the last study was released in 2007.

Conducted by independent research firm Colette Holt & Associates, the disparity study cites the success of MNAA’s efforts and recommends continuation and expansion of these programs to further reduce any disparities in access to airport contracting opportunities based on race and gender.

MNAA’s SMWBE and DBE programs provide historically underrepresented businesses with certification assistance, education programs and skill development so they can pursue and compete for procurement opportunities. Since 2007, MNAA has certified 385 SMWBEs and invested $76 million in contracts for concessions, construction and professional services, with more than $6.5 million in contracts in the previous fiscal year.

Holt thinks it’s important to know the difference between a DBE program and a small business program.

“The city is not a DBE program, it’s a small business program, Holt said, “the courts treat the race and gender and small groups differently.”

“This disparity study measures the effectiveness of our efforts to-date and will help us address any disparities in access to contracting opportunities based on race and gender at our airports. It also provides recommendations on how we can further enhance and grow our programs as our airports and region continue to grow. We are proud to have one the strongest business diversity programs in the country,” Rob Wigington, MNAA president/CEO said.

If you have a small business and you’re trying to pass it off as a DBE Holt says you will go jail no questions about it.
Disparity studies evaluate contracting data to measure the participation of available small, minority and woman-owned business enterprises within public entities. Disparities exist when these firms are found to be underutilized in comparison to the proportion of available and capable firms in the region. MNAA’s last disparity study was conducted in 2007.

Colette Holt & Associates analyzed MNAA contract data from 2008 to 2012 using extensive focus groups and anecdotal evidence. Both disadvantaged and non-dis-
advantaged firms expressed satisfaction in MNAA’s programs and believed they were effective in providing access to procurement opportunities. Overall, the results suggest that MNAA’s programs have been successful in reducing barriers to participation and recommends those efforts be continued and expanded.

“The airport is in a very good position just in case someone decides to take us down,” said Holt.

She says MNAA has the best program she’s seen and she credits that to three factors:
1) Commitment of the leadership to do something
2) Good committed staff people to carry it out
3) The money spent on technology to know what’s going on/systems in place to monitor

Holt also added the fact that the MNAA pays promptly, something that is very important to her since she’s her own boss.
Davita Taylor, director of business diversity development program of MNAA, says she is proud of that but what she is most proud of is the emerging contractor program and mentorship program, Protégé, which is ran with Tennessee State University.

Taylor said it’s important to her that “everyone is getting an opportunity to participate.”

For more information on MNAA’s Business Diversity Development program, visit www.flynashville.com/business-diversity-development