There hasn’t been a lot of inflation in the US over the last year, but the price of at least one thing has certainly been going up – the price of a diversity study meant to assess and increase Guilford County’s dealings with minority and women owned businesses.

When Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston first brought up the matter early last year, the estimated cost was about $300,000 – a price that many county commissioners at that time found eye-opening.

When staff presented a new 2020 price at a Tuesday, June 16 work session, the estimated cost was even higher. A study is now estimated to run between $400,000 and $500,000.

Staff suggested some ways the county could bring down the cost – for instance, by partnering with Guilford County Schools for a combined study.

Alston said at the work session that he wanted to see funding for the study included in the new county budget that’s expected to be adopted on Thursday, June 18. He suggested putting $200,000 in the budget for fiscal 2020-2021 and coming back later with more funding to cover the additional $300,000.

The study would examine things such as the county’s current procurement procedures and minority and women-owned business participation in contracts. It would also involve a data analysis and a market analysis to see how Guilford County government is doing compared with those in the private sector and with other public sector bodies.

The study would also, of course, explore ways for Guilford County to do more business with those firms. For years, the Guilford County commissioners have expressed an interest in taking steps to increase the number of county contracts and the amount of other business that goes to minority and women-owned firms.

According to information provided at the work session, the City of Greensboro conducted a diversity study that culminated in 2016, while the county’s school system did a major one that ended in 2014.

At the end of the discussion at the June 16 work session, several commissioners expressed an interest in seeing if the county could partner with the school system – perhaps allowing both the county and the schools to save money on a study.