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Cincinnati minority inclusion

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is taking action to increase the number of minority owned businesses getting contracts from the city.

The 'why' is actually pretty easy.  The city of Cincinnati is about half-white, half-black.  Yet city figures show only 2.7 percent of city contracts go to African-American owned firms.  6.2 percent go to female owned firms and zero percent go to Latino owned firms.

Surrounded by a diverse group of business and political leaders, Cranley said he is asking city council for 175,000 dollars to set up an office of minority inclusion.  There will also be an advisory council.  While the city cannot require specific numbers, Cranley says his goal is to have 15 percent African American owned contractors, 12 percent female owned, and three percent Hispanic owned doing business with the city by the end of his first term in 2017.

"We've got to improve these numbers.  And the fact is this isn't about set-asides.  We've got to improve these numbers in creating more opportunities and marketing our region the way Atlanta has the last 40 years.  As a place where opportunity exists for everybody," the mayor said.

Cranley also wants his advisory committee to bring in the names of a dozen minority, female, or Hispanic owned firms over the next six months which could qualify for city contracts.  It's not automatic those firms will get the contracts but Cranley wants to get started finding appropriate companies.

The city has also undertaken what's known as a Croson study on minority business and population.  Depending on the results of that study, which won't be known til mid 2015, the city could get more clout in enforcing minority contract goals.  However, the other measures Cranley announced Wednesday can start this year.

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