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St. Louis Creates $10 Million Fund for Minority and Women Contractors

St. Louis Creates $10 Million Fund for Minority and Women Contractors
St. Louis has tons of projects that will keep contractors busy over the next 10-15 years, and they want to give a piece of the pie to minority and women contractors. They are putting their money where their mouth is, to the tune of $10 million in a newly-created Contractor Loan Fund, designed to give minority and women contractors access to capital so they can grow their businesses.

Cash flow needed

Small businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women, have a difficult time gaining access to capital that would enable them to compete for contracts with the city. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why St. Louis failed to award enough city construction contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses from 2007 to 2012. As Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis City NAACP, explained the need for cash flow, “Cash flow is like oxygen for a business. Without it, it would die.”

More than just money

The issue of money is extremely important, but so is the issue of ensuring that minorities and women in the construction business are included on construction projects. The two need to work hand-in-hand in order for it to work. It will require that the city do a balancing act of enforcing compliance with inclusion requirements by making sure that minorities and women are able to participate in a Department of Labor-approved apprentice program that is required in order for them to bid on city government contracts.

The new funding is nevertheless welcome news to some 50 business and city leaders in St. Louis who applauded the new $10-million Contractor Loan Fund.

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