Minority Contractors Want More Work and Cuyahoga County May Respond

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Just a month ago a Cuyahoga County disparity study found that women-owned or minority-owned contractors are underutilized with an “inference of discrimination.“ That’s what protester Norman Edwards has been arguing for years. He points next to the mall to Thistledown Racino, which was recently renovated by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

“Let’s have some diversity and inclusion on this project the same way like Dan Gilbert did over at the racino. We had 30% minority contractors and 30% minority workforce.”

Edwards wants the owner of the mall – IRG - to hire some black contractors because the site is in North Randall, a village that is 89% black. He says many of the firms in the Black and Minority Contractors group are unionized. But the demolition crew from Grafton-based Sitetech Incorporated consists of only 5 men. Sitetech foreman Justin Scott says they have become IRG's regular excavation partner.

“There’s not going to be more than one demo contractor here and IRG is the company that owns the property and they’ve been using us for their wrecking ball pretty much nationwide lately.”

In fact, Scott’s company is not charging for the demolition work; it just gets salvage rights to the scrap metal.

Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County Council is considering establishing certain goals to hire women and minority contractors. Public Works Committee chair Pernel Jones says it’s not about quotas but about hiring local people.

“We want to make sure we focus on residents of this county. And race is something we all have to be conscious of. The reality is we know there are racial issues but there are ways of addressing them that really speak to income inequality, that speak to us all benefitting.”

The county received a report last month offered recommendations including a set-aside on projects for which only small businesses could bid.

“And that is non-race conscious in that small business domain. So that is the flavor of just one of the 17 recommendations to begin to address it. Whenever this conversation comes up income inequality really has to be the mantra and the thrust of serving all the residents of this county.”

Jones’ committee will hold public meetings on the proposal at the end of this month.

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