Documenters Brief

Dallas Park Board questions efforts to connect minority and women-owned businesses to city projects

By Dallas Documenters,

October 24, 2023

Public Meeting Briefs

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Photo by Jeffrey Ruiz

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During a September meeting, members of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board questioned the effectiveness of connecting minority and women-owned businesses to city projects. This was after the Dallas Park and Recreation Board approved projects and contracts and noticed a lack of minority and women-owned businesses applying for jobs.

The Park Board requested a representative from the city to brief them on the City’s Minority/Women Business Enterprise Certification program and how it could be falling short.

Board member Calvert Collins-Bratton said there’s a perception that the “city is not doing a good enough job” around the Minority/Women Business Enterprise Certification to promote minority and women-owned businesses within city projects.

Board member Timothy Dickey said he fears that some contractors are not making a good-faith effort to find minority and women-owned businesses.

The City of Dallas’ response:

Jesse Saldana, program administrator at the City of Dallas Small Business Center, said more work could be done to improve the visibility and process of the program. He said outreach is a focus area, as they’re trying to add more vendors to their online portal so they are aware of opportunities. He also said getting businesses to complete the appropriate steps can be difficult, which include providing corporate documents, bylaws, etc.

Saldana said they’re working to make the requirements more clear.

Park board members offer possible solutions:

Park Board members suggested multiple ways to strengthen the promotion of minority and women-owned businesses.

Board member and Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce President Harrison Blair said his organization and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce must pull together resources and share opportunities with businesses. The Park Department needs to look at the Small Business Center as infrastructure that connects businesses to the city, Blair said.

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Board member Priscilla Rice asked about outreach toward Spanish-speaking communities. Saldana said city employees pass out flyers, attend networking events and share opportunities with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to encourage Spanish-speaking businesses to participate in city contracts.

Board chair Arun Agarwal asked about financial literacy and financing for small businesses. 

Saldana said the goal of the small business accelerator program is for businesses to receive technical assistance and financial assistance, and grow their knowledge of contract language.

Dallas Free Press found this memo about the June 2023 creation of the Dallas Accelerator Program (DAP), but could not find any information online about how to access resources for the program. 

About the board:

The Dallas Park and Recreation Board has oversight of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. 

The 15 members of this policy-making board are appointed and approved by the mayor and Dallas City Council.

The board has jurisdiction over the control, management and maintenance of the public parks of the city.

Dallas Documenter Karem Montemayor attended the September Park Board public meeting, and this brief emerged from her notes. Click here to read Montemayor’s full notes, and here to learn how you can become a paid Documenter at public meetings.

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