"We were dealing with a city department that had been dysfunctional for a very long time, that was not satisfying the small and minority businesses that it was created to assist, nor was it satisfying large prime contractors with which it was expected to work."
Mayor Annise Parker with Carlecia Wright who will head the Office of Business Opportunities
Since the program's inception, more than $4.1 billion has been awarded to minority and women-owned small business enterprises. Wright says she's been given a simple directive from the mayor:
"(One,) improving the certification process. Two, building out the compliance team, not to just think about it from a compliance perspective, but to think how we can build relationships. Treat the prime contractors and the departments like they're customers, as well."
Mayor Parker says the city doesn't set aside work and say only a minority firm can do it.
"It's not a handout. It's not a set-aside. It's a program where we open the doors of opportunity top businesses that can get the work done and that can be the low bid."
Parker says for a minority or women-owned business to succeed with the city, they've got to be able to produce, as well as be the low bid.