The Bureau of Business Research of the IC² Institute recently conducted a year-long project to enhance minority participation in Travis County’s Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program. Travis County initiated the project as one response to recommendations made in a 2016 business disparity study of its contracting program. A 1989 landmark United States Supreme Court case requires state and local governments to establish “a compelling governmental interest” to operate goals-based contracting programs. Race- and gender-neutral (RG&N) actions, the project focus, constitute the “narrow tailoring” prong of the Supreme Court decision.
Summary of Key Project Deliverables and Activities
- A Compilation of Best Practices for Consideration by Travis County’s Historically Underutilized Business Program, describes 61 best practices and programs throughout the US in (1) financial assistance, (2) administrative support, (3) support services and training and (4) additional strategies.
- The Resource Guide for Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs) in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), is a one-source, ready-reference for HUBs who seek information about contracting with Travis County and other surrounding state and local governments. Fifty local programs and organizations were identified. Travis County now lists the guide in its HUB program webpage.
- HUBs in the Austin region were contacted to determine their interest in receiving entrepreneurship assistance from the McCombs School of Business Texas Venture Lab (TVL) program. Approximately 115 RSVPs were received, 14 applied to the advanced competitive program, with two companies admitted and performing admirably.
Project Priority Recommendation
Based on the project research and the Institute’s prior FastForward training for the City of Austin, a new training program has been developed. The Readiness Training Program is designed to build the capacity and competitiveness of HUB companies in the Austin-Round Rock Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) to bid on both public and private sector procurement opportunities. The Travis County Purchasing Department supported the planning phase of the proposed RTP. A variety of funding sources are contemplated to implement and expand the HUB training. Drs. John Sibley Butler and James E. Jarrett served as the project investigators and Mr. J. Jorge Anchondo as a consultant.
For further information please email Dr. James Jarrett, IC² Institute Senior Research Scientist.