Not that many years ago, Guilford County’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) utilization efforts were all handled by an assistant director in the Purchasing Department who had other duties as well.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, the efforts to use more minority and women owned businesses were still listed as a line under “County Administration” with a cost of about $170,000.  Last year at this time the adopted budget called for taxpayers to spend $385,000 for the full-fledged Guilford County MWBE Department.

In the fiscal 2023-2024 Guilford County budget, the cost of the county’s MWBE efforts will come to a whopping grand total of $1,566,976.

Last year at this time, the MWBE Department had three positions and, in the new budget the commissioners will approve in mid-June, the county’s MWBE Department will have eight positions.  In other words, the size of the department nearly tripled in one year.

While the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is still tweaking County Manager Mike Halford’s proposed budget, which calls for the dramatic increase in spending on MWBE, that nearly $1.6 million number is certain to remain because the Guilford County Board of Commissioners has already voted to approve the five new MWBE Department positions that contribute to the huge single year cost increase.

The coming fiscal 2023-2024 budget also includes $450,000 to establish a “Capital Access Program” that will “provide financial support to small businesses owned by minorities and women, with the goal of increasing the availability of capital to MWBEs that may not have easy access to traditional funding sources due to their size, lack of collateral, or limited credit history.”

According to information included in the coming budget, the new program will offer grants to eligible businesses, which can use that money for things like “working capital, equipment purchase, inventory, or marketing.”

The program will also provide technical assistance, business counseling, and training to help MWBEs improve the management of their finances and “growth potential.”

There’s also an additional $100,000 budgeted for fiscal year 2023-2024 for “MWBE Other Services and Charges” to “fund County partnerships with community organizations in High Point and Greensboro to further support MWBE firms.”