As has become commonplace for Greensboro City Council work sessions, the agenda had little to do with the actual meeting.

The agenda for the Tuesday, March 2 virtual meeting, which was finally posted with attachments on after 3 p.m. Monday, March 1, only had two items.

Item 1 was “Way Finding Update” and Item 2 was “Minority/Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program Review/Griffin and Strong.”

At the beginning of the meeting, it was decided to reverse those and do the MWBE report first and then after the MWBE discussion was concluded, Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked if they could have the discussion on Way Finding at a later meeting and the City Council went into a closed session to discuss granting an economic incentive.

So, the City Council never got to the first item on the agenda.

Assistant City Manager Kim Sowell went over the PowerPoint presentation on the MWBE numbers, comparing the figures for the disparity study, which is an average of the years 2012 through 2016 with 2019 and 2020.  For example, in construction the average MWBE utilization in the disparity study was 11.4 percent, for 2019 it was 27.4 percent and for 2020 15.56 percent.

Sowell explained, as if an explanation was necessary, that 2020 was a very difficult year and overall construction was down.  She also said that MWBE construction numbers were affected because a large percentage of construction was in one water resources department project, replacing water meters, and because of the nature of the contract that had low MWBE utilization.

Michelle Clark Jenkins, the senior director at Griffin & Strong, said, “I am encouraged by the upward trajectory.”

Griffin & Strong is the consulting group that did the disparity study and assisted in writing the current MWBE program.  Jenkins said that Griffin & Strong is now operating in a consulting roll on the MWBE program and met twice a week with MWBE office to go over issues.

She said that most of the meetings were “topic driven – how should we handle this situation.”

Jenkins said, “I do think there are more tools that the city can be using.  Using all the tools in your tool belt helps to equalize the numbers.”

Jenkins also said that some up and down in the percentages is to be expected, but that the city should try to keep the numbers on an upward trend.  She said that if 2021 started to look more like 2019 that would be great, and if it looked like a repeat of 2020 then they would have to delve into why.

Only seven members of the City Council were present for the virtual work session, both Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson and Michelle Kennedy were absent.