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City Council Developing Diversity Action Plan For Contracts

The City of San Antonio has been working on a diversity action plan when concerns arose at previous city council meetings that leaders were not selecting enough African-American or other minority firms for contracting jobs.

The jobs are for upgrades to streets, sidewalks, and other public infrastructure that voters approved in the 2012-2017 city bond program; 140 projects worth $596 million. Members of the community stepped forward to ask why minority candidates seemed to have been passed over, and Mayor Julián Castro has requested an action plan.

Local architect Porter Dillard said the vision is to have city contracts mirror the diversity of the city's business community with two goals in mind: "Increase number of minority and women-owned firms in the city central vendor registry. Goal 2, increase the participation of minority and women-owned firms on city contracts."

After 16 meetings and an action plan outlined, Capital Improvements Management Services Director Mike Frisbie said the plan is already taking shape and partners have increased African-American firms working on projects by 20 percent.

"We also have improved the Asian component because we are looking at all the different ethnic groups; we did pick up WestEast Design Group as a prime consultant on two projects through the on-call process,” said Frisbie.

The council will have the chance to officially adopt a diversity action plan next month. Community members with a vested interest in the plan will report back to the council quarterly.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.