Questions about the number of minority-owned contractors working at Enterprise South industrial park have led to a proposed resolution urging Volkswagen to make a “good-faith effort” to hire minorities.
City Council members Debbie Gaines and Leamon Pierce first posed questions Tuesday during a Legal and Legislative Committee meeting. Mr. Pierce proposed the resolution asking VW, which is building an auto plant at the site, to make an effort at hiring a diverse work force, employees and anyone working at the industrial park.
During the initial stages of getting the infrastructure of the plant started, looking for minority-owned contractors possibly fell to the wayside, he said Wednesday.
“Now that things are finally settling, we can look at the contracts,” Mr. Pierce said. “We just want to be part of that process, whether we walk through that door or not.”
There are two minority-owned subcontractors working at the Enterprise South industrial park. They are:
* Gibco Excavating and Trucking
* K&E Construction
Source: City of Chattanooga
Council members could vote on the resolution next week. VW officials could not be reached for comment.
Ms. Gaines said she wants to make sure that monitoring taking place and that minorities have a seat at the table. Because of the amount of money coming from state and local sources, she said she thinks Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could be kicked in to make sure no discrimination is occurring.
“If we have that tool, we need to use it,” she said.
City officials said Tuesday there are a total of nine private contractors on site at Enterprise South industrial park, getting it ready for VW’s auto plant. None are minority owned, but there are two minority-owned subcontractors at the job site, said Steve Leach, Department of Public Works administrator.
Mr. Leach said contractors were selected either through a bidding process or emergency contracts. He said there are stipulations in some contracts that look favorably toward “disadvantaged businesses.”
“A lot of it is market,” he said. “It’s who is in the market to bid on it.”
Sharon Gilbert, owner of Gibco Construction, one of two minority-owned businesses working at Enterprise South, acknowledged a lack of minority-owned businesses at the site but was not worried.
“As far as I’m concerned, I feel like we have good representation,” she said.
Mayor Ron Littlefield said Wednesday he thought the proposed resolution was a “good thing.” Within the next few years, there should be no difficulties including minority-owned businesses with the amount of work needing to be done, he said.
“We should have enough work to keep minority-owned businesses busy,” he said.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...