Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg, Dauphin County to partner to study contracting opportunities for diverse city businesses

Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams, along with city and county officials, announced a disparity study on Wednesday.

According to Harrisburg officials, there are city businesses whose services have long been undervalued.

Harrisburg, along with Dauphin County and nonprofit Impact Harrisburg, will conduct a disparity study to determine how and where the city can provide more opportunities to diverse businesses and contractors.

“The disparity study will clearly highlight not only which businesses have been negatively impacted in terms of lack of access, but it will talk about ways to make it equitable,” explained Karl Singleton, the city’s equity and compliance officer, at a press conference on Wednesday.

In May 2021, Harrisburg City Council passed a resolution to enter into an agreement with Impact Harrisburg to conduct the study. However, it had been on hold until now.

According to Singleton, the study will evaluate how well the city has historically utilized disadvantaged businesses in its contracting and procurement. Within the study, they hope to get a grasp on the number of available minority, women, disabled and LGBTQ-owned businesses in Harrisburg and the opportunities, or lack thereof, that they’ve had. From there, the study will make recommendations for next steps for the city to take to better utilize and assist diverse businesses.

According to Singleton, a large part of the gap in opportunities for disadvantaged business owners comes from a lack of access to financial resources. He believes the disparity study will help.

“This hopefully gives us an access point to which banks and other financial institutions can now look upon these business and say they’re not only capable, but they’re ready, willing and able,” he said.

Econsult Solutions, LLC will perform the study at a total cost of $250,000, funded in equal parts by the three partners.

Singleton expects the study to be completed within a year.

Mayor Wanda Williams explained how important it is that the city and county are working together on this initiative, a partnership between governing bodies that hasn’t always been smooth, she said.

“It is the first of many important steps towards creating that better tomorrow for Harrisburg,” Williams said.


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