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City approves new rules for minority contracting

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has set new goals for the number of women, minorities and city residents working on public works projects in St. Louis.

"In my opinion, it's historic for the city and would really push the city toward being a more diverse workplace," said 18th Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy, the measure's sponsor.

Projects in the city are subject to an executive order from Mayor Francis Slay that requires 30 percent of a contract go to companies owned by a women or a minority, but the order lacks enforcement.

"And that does not guarantee that any minority worker will actually work on the project," said Yaphett El-Amin, the executive director of the minority contractors group MOKAN. "It just speaks to the ownership of the company."

The new law, developed in conjunction with Mayor Slay, sets goals for the number of hours minorities, women, city residents and apprentices must work on a public project. Companies must prove they made a good-faith effort to reach those goals to a new community board.

"These are not quotas," Kennedy said. Court rulings prohibit the city from making the goals mandatory.

The move is unlikely to stop a Monday protest by a group of black contractors and businesses upset at the way the state distributes contracts to women and minority-owned companies. The African-American Business and Contractors Association will attempt to stop traffic along Interstate 70, 10 years and a day after a similar protect over the same issue.

MOKAN is not participating in the protest, El-Amin said.