Durham Co. to look for disparities in county contracts with minority, women-owned businesses

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Disparity study will measure how Durham County is doing
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Durham conducting a disparity study that will examine the utilization of minority-owned businesses as compared to their availability in the Durham market area.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham County is taking a closer look at disparities that exist in minority and women-owned businesses.

It commissioned Miller Consulting, Inc. to conduct a disparity study to determine if any inequities exist around how these businesses obtain county contracts. Being a small business owner is challenging as is.

"Trying to navigate that loan and debt processes, you often get stuck with high-interest loans because those are easiest to achieve," said Wendy Abram, co-owner of Jada's Men's Accessories.

They say if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. That's the case for the Abram's who have been in business for four years. They run the boutique in downtown Durham.

"That's my motto: feel well, dress well," said James Abram. " We've got bow ties, neckties, ascots, suits, pocket squares."

Triangle financial adviser Arkell Barnes said accessing capital is the biggest issue for minority-owned businesses and redlining didn't help.

"We weren't able to get into the game as early as other people having the history of owning our own real estate to borrow against and start businesses," he said.

Delores Farmer, owner of Delores Pottery and Studios told ABC11 she knew nothing about the meeting, but she's happy to hear the county taking up the disparity study.

"I've been applying to grants and different funding for a while now and I haven't been able to get anything. I just assumed because I'm too small, maybe because I'm a woman...a woman of color," she said.

She showed ABC11 her wheel-throwing skills by making a pumpkin for her pottery pumpkin patch, which is a big seller as fall approaches.

While she won't make the public hearing Monday night because she's working, she hopes this focus on equity at a county level will help businesses like hers.

"Hopefully this will shed light and provide more opportunities for someone like me to scale and grow business, especially in an area growing so fast," she said.

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