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Travis County Disparity Study

Travis County (“the County”) is conducting a Disparity Study of its Historically Underutilized Business (“HUB”) program. The study seeks to ensure that HUBs have equal access to contracting opportunities and that the County’s current program remains legally defensible and administratively successful.

A disparity study involves compilation of evidence to determine whether the County has a strong basis to continue to implement race- and gender-conscious contracting remedies, and if so, how to narrowly tailor its HUB program. The study will determine the County’s utilization of HUBs and the availability of HUBs as a percentage of all firms in the market area and relevant industries.  The study will analyze whether there are disparities, if any, between the availability of HUBs and their utilization on County-funded contracts and related subcontracts and throughout the Travis area economy as a whole.

The study will further examine factors necessary for entrepreneurial success, such as access to business capital, bonding, networks, suppliers and other resources. It will also gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination, and the impact of the current HUB program. Another important component is a review of the County’s current HUB program. Based on these findings, the study will make recommendations for future initiatives and enhancements.

The contract for this study has been awarded to Colette Holt & Associates (“CHA”), a San Antonio-based nationally recognized expert team on disparity studies and M/WBE programs. The firm has worked with the County for many years. CHA is partnering with Cultural Strategies, Inc., and Beverly Silas and Associates, both certified HUB firms.

How can you be involved? The participation of stakeholders and business owners is critical to the study’s outcomes in two important ways.

First, the study team will contact businesses to confirm information on specific contracts and/or to receive additional contract information that is currently not available or accessible to the County.  Like most government agencies, because the County has not collected all the types of specialized contracting records necessary for the study, the consultant must rely on prime firms to supplement missing data. This information is critical to developing an accurate analysis of the utilization of HUBs on County projects. With the support and assistance of business owners, the study will present a complete picture of the County’s contracting activities. Some firms will be contacted to provide such data. CHA will work with the firms to make the process as easy as possible.

Second, CHA will gather qualitative data relevant to the study.  We administer a comprehensive electronic survey to collect anecdotal information. The survey will elicit firms’ experiences and insights in doing business with the County, with the HUB program and barriers to obtaining work in the greater Travis County economy.  We will also conduct follow up business owner small group interviews.  The information generated from these data collection methods will be an important component of the analysis of whether the HUB program remains necessary to level the playing field and to ensure the program is narrowly tailored. To learn about sessions pertinent to your business, please email CHA at traviscounty-study@mwbelaw.com. We also welcome written submissions or other evidence.

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