Women And Minority-Owned Businesses Receive Less Money From State Contracts, Study Finds

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Welton Street Cafe owner Fathima Dickerson at work on Oct. 20, 2020.

Businesses owned by women and minorities receive about 8 percent of funds through Colorado state contracts, 20 percent below what would be expected based on the firms available to do the work, a new report found.

The study commissioned by the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration analyzed 21,588 contracts and subcontracts totaling $3.2 billion between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2018. The study found that while the state has made progress in reaching out to historically underused businesses, disparities persist, the department said in an emailed statement.

“Many of Colorado’s fastest growing businesses are owned by minorities and women, and government contracts play a significant role in determining whether many of these businesses succeed,” Kara Keith, executive director of the Department of Personnel and Administration, said in the statement. “We want to ensure that the talents and quality services inherent within these historically underutilized businesses contribute to the success of State government.”

Keen Independent Research, the firm that conducted the study, recommends removing barriers for small businesses, establishing policy and annual goals for eligible contracts and working with partners to prepare more underrepresented businesses for state contracts.