All people deserve equal access to economic opportunity.

As our nation currently grapples with its long history of systemic racism and inequality, we must take a hard look at all systems of injustice, including economic systems. We cannot close the gender and racial wealth gap without making systemic changes to these systems.

Two years ago, Commissioner Ellis proposed that Harris County conduct a disparity study to determine if minority- and women-owned businesses have fair access to government contracting and procurement.

The study found that only 9.1% of Harris County's contract dollars go to minority- or women-owned businesses.

  • Only 0.5% of our contract dollars go to black-owned businesses
  • 0.6% to Asian-owned firms; and
  • 4.6% to Latinx-owned businesses.
  • MWBEs are much more available than they are being used. For example, black-owned businesses represent 8.4% of available businesses but are getting only 0.5% of the county’s contracts.

Harris County Contracts: 4.6% Latinx-owned businesses; 3.4% Women-owned businesses; 0.6% Asian-owned businesses; 0.5% Black-owned businesses = only 9.1% of contracts with MWBE businesses

In response to the disparity study and given the vital role that MWBEs play in our local economy, advancing fair and inclusive economic policies to bolster their long-term success will help create jobs and wealth within Harris County. That's why Commissioners Court approved developing a Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises program, which will be administered and managed by the Office of Economic Equity and Opportunity, which began operating in January 2021.

Minority- and women-owned businesses are driving the growth of new businesses and jobs in our communities. We must ensure that minorities, women, and other historically disadvantaged groups have equal access to economic opportunity.

Harris County had a choice and voted to be part of helping to end racial inequality and inequity in our communities. In addition to championing the Harris County disparity study and creating a Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises program, Commissioner Ellis and Precinct One staff also championed disparity studies at Houston METRO, Harris Health, and the Port of Houston. These studies are currently in different stages of completion and review.