The $550 billion federal infrastructure bill, signed into law last November, has the potential to provide significant boosts in business for minority contractors – but it will take persistence.
Ugo Nwagbaraocha is president and owner of Diamond Disc International, a wholesale construction, tooling and equipment. He is also president of the Wisconsin chapter of National Association of Minority Contractors.
“If we truly want this infrastructure bill to impact not only ethnic diverse businesses but also the communities, the underserved, underrepresented communities which we’re most often a part of, then we have to be more intentional and meaningful in making sure that there are provisions that encourage and motivate (general contractors) to use ethnic diverse businesses,” Nwagbaraocha said.
Nwagbaraocha and NAMC are concerned that ethnic minority contractors and disadvantaged business enterprise will be left out of the financial windfall created by the infrastructure legislation.
“Sometimes 70% to 80% of their current DBE participation is non-minority women owned firms,” Nwagbaraocha said of some projects.
“It’s great for non-minority women owned firms to be doing well, but there’s a concern that ethnic diverse businesses that disparity of our participation on these major projects, will increase if there’s not intentional efforts made to continue to increase participation opportunities.”