Minority- and woman-owned businesses face challenging process to apply for targeted contracts

Since 2007, state expenditures on work done by minority-owned firms have risen 6.9 percent, topping $138 million in fiscal year 2016, according to the Office of Equal Opportunity. State funds going to women-owned firms increased 1.3 percent in the same time period to $53.6 million.

Despite the trend, a review committee said in January 2015 that “there is still much work to be done to eliminate the lingering effects of discrimination and ensure a level playing field for all Missouri business owners, especially minority- and women-owned businesses.”

The committee’s study found that businesses often had a hard time applying to the program and some agencies had trouble locating diverse contractors.

Several vendors said that while the state’s expenditures have been a boon for small businesses, the money is often funneled through larger, out-of-state agencies that serve as prime contractors.

Under an executive order signed in 2015 by former Gov. Jay Nixon, state agencies must strive to meet a goal of 10 percent participation for minority-owned businesses and 10 percent for women-owned businesses.

Nixon’s successor, Gov. Eric Greitens, has left the goals in place; he has not said what he intends to do with the program.

Read more: Columbia Missourian

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