MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott has been appointed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to help lead a newly launched effort to close the city’s racial wealth gap. Parrott and LG&E and KU Energy Chief Executive Officer Paul Thompson are co-chairs of the Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force the mayor created Wednesday by executive order.
The task force will use supplier diversity initiatives to help firms owned by minorities, females and people with disabilities do work on capital projects. The co-chairs were chosen because both MSD and LG&E/KU have successful track records in supplier diversity.
Louisville Metro Government estimates that more than $5 billion will be invested locally in public and private capital infrastructure investments over the next five years, including projects from the city, MSD, Louisville Gas & Electric Company and others. Mayor Fischer wants to see more MFDBEs–minority, female, disabled, and LGBT business enterprises as defined in the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinance 37.66–involved in that work.
The Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force will establish ambitious and achievable goals and timetables to increase the level of expenditure with those businesses. Parrott will co-chair with Paul W. Thompson, CEO and president of LG&E and KU Energy. Both MSD and LG&E and KU Energy have a significant history of promoting supplier diversity through their own procurement policies.
“As MSD spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on projects like the Waterway Protection Tunnel, we require contractors to hire specific numbers of minority subcontractors and commit to using local labor on construction projects,” Parrott said. “In the last 5 years, MSD has awarded over $160 million in contracts to minority- and women-owned firms. We also assist minority firms bidding as prime contractors. I am happy to join others in the challenge to create a lasting citywide effort at economic equity.”
Nationally, according to the Brookings Institution, at $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016. Locally, only 2.4% of Louisville’s businesses are Black-owned, while the city’s population is 22% Black.
Parrott said the work of the task force is vital in the wake of changes in both the community and the nation. “We find ourselves standing at a crossroads—a crossroads where we have to ask ourselves ‘Are we going to continue the path of chaos, or are we going to come together as a community to figure out how we can address one of the biggest poisons we have in our city?’ which is economic inequality and poverty in our community.”
The Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force’s work will include developing a Local Labor Utilization guideline to be implemented by local companies, with commitments to make good faith efforts to employ maximum possible local labor.
The Task Force will solicit input from and collaborate with local businesses, business organizations, labor unions, human resources organizations, supplier diversity organizations, and others who work daily in this area. These organizations have committed to joining the Task Force, with the following representatives:
- Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (Tony Parrott)
- LG&E and KU Energy (Paul Thompson)
- Louisville Water Company (Spencer Bruce)
- Louisville Regional Airport Authority (Dan Mann)
- Louisville Metro Housing Authority (Lisa Osanka)
- Louisville Metro Government (Chief Equity Officer Kendall Boyd)
- Louisville Metro Council (Councilwoman Paula McCraney)
- Jefferson County Public Schools (Dr. Marty Polio)
- University of Louisville (Sally Molsberger)
- Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (Secretary Jim Gray)
- Louisville Urban League (Sadiqa Reynolds)
- One West (Evon Smith)
The Task Force will also establish a Workforce Development Subcommittee to include representatives from KentuckianaWorks, Labor, and Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI).
The Equity in Contracting and Procurement Task Force will hold its first meeting later this month. The Task Force chairs will schedule meetings on at least a bi-monthly basis over the next six months and establish sub-committees as needed. An initial report with preliminary recommendations will be submitted to the Mayor by December 31, 2020.