Fair Shot: Minority business owners advocate for greater share of state contracts

In Connecticut, which first established its set-aside program in 1977, 25% of all state contracts must be allocated to small businesses and at least 6.25% of contracts must specifically be designated for minority-owned companies. Thirty-eight states have some form of set-aside programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but Connecticut is one of only a handful that sets a mandated percentage. But the 6.25% carve out for minorities has not changed in nearly 35 years. The program, which is enforced by the state’s Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, can only legally be changed if the state performs a formal disparity study that shows inequities exist for certain minority groups. That is a temporary solution to a longer-term challenge. As the state — and its minority businesses — look to rebuild the economy after the pandemic, providing access to capital and creating more access to state-certified projects for minority business enterprises will be an important consideration.


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