Fair advertising goes to local firm after diversity controversy

Fair advertising goes to local firm after diversity controversy
March 29
03:00 2018

Amid a meeting where the City Council expanded Minority/Woman Business Enterprise (M/WBE) requirements and a disparity study was approved, the Council awarded Dixie Classic Fair advertising to a firm it originally had diversity concerns about.

The City Council unanimously voted to give a one-year $230,000 contract to Wildfire LLC for advertising and marketing the fair. Last month, Council Member and Chronicle co-owner Derwin Montgomery wanted to reject a three-year contract with the local firm, saying Wildfire lacked minority employees, and wanted to instead have city staff do the fair adverting.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Montgomery said he’d gotten assurances from Wildfire on his concerns about if the advertising firm could increase minority attendance at the fair.

“Wildfire has committed to working with the city and city staff … to ensure that we’re engaging a diverse segment of our community,” said Montgomery.

With a one-year contract, any renewals would be subject to the new changes in the city’s M/WBE policy and information the city learns from the diversity study.

Wildfire has been doing the fair’s advertising for the last six years and met the city’s M/WBE requirements with its bids. Since Wildfire regularly uses The Chronicle for fair advertising, Montgomery said last month The Chronicle won’t take money involved with the contract in order to avoid conflicts of interest so that he and City Council Member James Taylor, who is The Chronicle’s publisher, could vote on the matter.

City Council Member Robert Clark, who opposed rejecting Wildfire’s bid, called it a good compromise. Council members also praised the City Marketing and Communications staff for its proposal for marketing the fair and said they hoped some of those ideas could still be used.

The M/WBE changes the City Council unanimously passed included:

*Requiring M/WBE goals on all construction and repair projects that cost more than $100,000, instead of the current $300,00 or more requirement.

*Requiring 10 percent M/WBE participation for submittals for a wide range of professional and other services.

*If a bidder fails to make M/WBE goals and doesn’t meet good-faith standards, there’ll be penalties for subsequent proposals.

The City Council also voted 7-1 for the city manager to solicit bids for a disparity study on the city’s contracting and procurement activities in relationship to M/WBE businesses. The study will analyze how well the city is doing on inclusion, what M/WBE firms are available for the type of work the city solicits and if these businesses have received their fair share of contracts.

The estimated cost of the study is $275,000 to $350,000 that’ll be taken from the city’s economic development project fund. Clark was the sole “no” vote, saying he felt the price was too high and that the city could save money by just looking at the results other cities have gotten from their disparity studies. City Council Member Dan Besse responded that those studies were specific to those communities and the city needed to do one of its own.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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