The Port of Houston is taking steps to increase the number of small businesses and those owned by women and minorities the port contracts with.
It comes after the completion of an independent disparity study that shows women- and minority-owned businesses are grossly underrepresented in the port's procurement process.
For example, the study by Griffin & Strong PC found less than 0.1% of construction contract dollars go to Black-owned firms, even though they represent about 15% of the market.
"It shows that we have a lot of work to do going forward to provide what we have been talking about for a long time, which is social, racial and economic equity for the community," Port Commission Chairman Ric Campo said.
He said the study will help the commission as it works to enhance the port's small business enterprise program.
The port commission this week authorized staff to work on next steps.
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis praised the port for commissioning the study, saying the port's is similar to the county's contracting disparity.
“(What) these results tell us is that economic inequality has gone unaddressed for far too long and that every major entity in this region has an obligation to confront this issue,” read a statement from Ellis. “We must work together to design strong programs that level the playing field for minority and women-owned businesses, and correct our historical negligence.”