Xavier University has launched an initiative to open post-disaster government contracts to minority-owned businesses, which have enjoyed only a miniscule share of the pie.
Mark Quinn, Xavier's Hilton-endowed chairman of entrepreneurship, who heads the project, said the website — mbedisastercontracts.com — will provide a range of resources, from help with government registration and qualification through to links to contracts and financing advice. There also will be a call center for person-to-person help.
The initiative, which has been made possible by a federal grant of $465,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency, aims at addressing the obstacles that have kept minority-owned businesses from successfully winning government post-disaster contracts.
"In 2017, there were as a result of floods, hurricanes and all kinds of other disasters $306 billion in contracts awarded," in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and other territories, Quinn said.
A fraction of 1% of those went to minority business enterprises, even though they reside in many of the regions affected, he said.
The main obstacle for MBEs is dealing with the cumbersome process of qualifying, bidding for and collecting on government agency contracts, Quinn said.
"You don't just go from building houses to Fed projects, there's a process. Our project is aimed at addressing that need," he said.