audrey-edmonson_web-1.jpgA report from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez’s office has confirmed the need for a formal disparity of black, Hispanic and women-owned business participation in county contracting.

The announcement came from Miami-Dade County Commission Vice Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson. It said she asked for the report more than five months ago.

“The small business community has greatly suffered not due to the lack of opportunity but [to] the

ineffectiveness of the county to collect critical data that could help determine where, if any, there were disparities,” Edmonson said in the announcement.

“I have often said that you can drive around this county and see who is working. As public officials, it is imperative that we provide opportunities to all businesses of Miami-Dade County,” she said.

Edmonson’s office said that a pre-disparity study conducted in 2005 found that data collected from county departments fell short of being able to conduct a full disparity study.

As a result, the County Commission adopted policies and implemented operational enhancements to address many of the data limitations.

In 2011, several pieces of legislation were passed to require collection and tracking of subcontractor information includin demographic data.

Edmonson said that during discussions with her commission colleagues, she often referred to the state of the economy and the unemployment numbers in Miami-Dade. When the county spends taxpayer dollars on goods and services, “we should ensure we are increasing and retaining the number of businesses participating in county contracting,” she said.

Edmonson said she is preparing legislation that would direct the Gimenez administration to start the process of hiring a firm to conduct a full disparity study that would use data collected in a centralized and consistent manner. The study will be conducted in key departments with contracts in a cross section of trade areas, she said.

Edmonson said she is preparing similar legislation that will direct the administration to assign a department with a centralized database that has or can economically add the fields necessary to house the information. The chosen department could also be assigned the responsibility for maintaining this data.

Currently, the information is housed at the Miami-Dade Sustainability, Planning and Economic Enhancement Department.

Photo: Audrey Edmonson