Magazine article Black Enterprise

Richmond Enacts New Set-Aside Law

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Richmond Enacts New Set-Aside Law

Article excerpt

Four years after Richmond, Va.'s contracting laws were struck down by the Supreme Court, the city has approved a new minority set-aside ordinance designed to address historic racial discrimination in the city's construction industry. These hotly contested rules adopted by the Richmond City Council in April are intensifying the national debate over minority set-asides of government work.

The new measure replaces the city's original set-aside ordinance that reserved 30% of city construction contracts for minorities. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in City of Richmond v. Croson overturned that law in 1989, finding that the city failed to establish a history of disparity between actual and potential minority participation in contracts.

Under the new law, when awarding contracts the city is required to give preference to prime contractors who have at least 20% minority involvement at all levels, including management. The 20% goal is to be achieved through "good faith efforts" by contractors and the city. Contractors will be given a "prequalification score" based on their past minority hiring efforts and future proposed efforts. Those found misrepresenting minority participation can be barred from conducting Richmond contracting for two years.

"Adopted unanimously, the ordinance is perhaps the beginning of addressing the concerns of minority contractors and legal aspects of the Croson case," says Mayor Walter T. Kenney. "Hopefully, it will meet the test."

The test has come swiftly as both white and black contractors line up against the new law. …

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