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McDonnell tries to increase small, women and minority business procurement

Anita Kumar

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) formed a board to boost state purchases from small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

"The foremost priority of this administration is job creation and economic development,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "Providing equal opportunity for a diverse set of businesses to win state contracts is an integral part of fostering a 'Commonwealth of Opportunity.' "

Virginia has long struggled with its diversity procurement. In the 1980s, state agencies began establishing goals for minority business spending, but after two decades, the number of companies receiving contracts remained about the same.

A first-of-its-kind study in 2003 found that less than a half-percent of state money in Virginia was spent on minority businesses, far behind other states, including Maryland and North Carolina.

Former Gov. Mark Warner (D) called for a 40 percent goal. His successor, Tim Kaine (D), aggressively worked toward that goal.

The Governor's Supplier Diversity Advisory Board will hold its first meeting Tuesday in Richmond. McDonnell will attend the meeting.

The board is composed of small-business owners, state procurement officers and legislators. Others will be named in the coming weeks. See below for the list:

Chairwoman:
Lisa M. Hicks-Thomas - Secretary of Administration

Members:
Del. Kenneth Alexander, Owner & CEO Metropolitan Funeral Service and Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus
John Biagas, President & CEO, Bay Electric, Co. Inc.
Al Bowers, CEO of Bowers Family Enterprises
Bill Cooper, Director of Supplier Diversity, University of Virginia
Julia Hammond, Virginia Director, National Federation of Independent Business
W. Christopher Harvey, Vice President of Hotel Development, Armada Hoffler
Cecil Hobbs, EVP & Commercial Lending, Townebank
Tracey G. Jeter, President and CEO, Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council
Ken Johnson, Owner and Founder of Johnson, Inc.
Clovia Lawrence, Metro Community Development Specialist & Radio One on-air personality
Ida McPherson, Director, Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise
Mary Guy Miller, President, Interactive Design and Development Inc.
Bob Sledd, Governor's Senior Economic Advisor
Peter Su, Director, Virginia Department of Business Assistance
Honorable Ron Villanueva, Virginia House of Delegates; Executive Vice President, SEK Solutions
Mark Whitaker, Associate Professor at Hampton University and member, Portsmouth City Public School Board
Angela Wilkes, Director Diversity & Small Business Liaison Officer, Owens & Minor
Michel Zajur, CEO, Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

By Anita Kumar  |  August 16, 2010; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Comments

It's fine to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin, or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either--whether it's labeled a "set-aside," a "quota," or a "goal," since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it costs the taxpayers money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it's almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981 and this model brief: http://community.pacificlegal.org/Page.aspx?pid=1342 ). Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose. I hope state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli will keep an eye on these folks.

Posted by: rclegg1 | August 17, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

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