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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Disparity Study

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (“MWRD” or the “District”) is conducting a disparity study for its Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (“M/WBE”) Program for Construction and Construction Related Professional Services Contracts.  The study seeks to ensure that MBEs and WBEs have equal access to contracting opportunities and that MWRD’s current program remains legally defensible and administratively successful.

A disparity study involves compilation of evidence to determine whether the District may implement race- and gender-conscious contracting remedies and, if so, how to narrowly tailor its program.  The study will include statistical evidence of MWRD’s utilization of M/WBEs and the availability of M/WBEs as a percentage of all firms in the market area and relevant industries.  The study will analyze whether there are disparities, if any, between the availability of M/WBEs and their utilization on District construction contracts and related subcontracts, and throughout the Chicago area economy as a whole.

The study will further examine factors necessary for entrepreneurial success, such as access to business capital, bonding, networks, suppliers, etc. It will also gather anecdotal evidence of any continuing effects of past or present race and sex discrimination, and the impact of the current M/WBE program.  Another important component is a review of MWRD’s current M/WBE program and recommendations for future initiatives and enhancements.

Colette Holt & Associates (“CHA”), a Chicago-based nationally recognized expert team on disparity studies and M/WBE programs, was selected to conduct this study.  CHA is partnering Sandi Llano & Associates, Inc., a recognized and respected leader in the Chicago area on supplier diversity programs.  

How can you be involved? The participation of stakeholders and business owners is critical to the study’s outcomes in two important ways.

First, the study team will contact businesses to confirm information on specific contracts and/or to receive additional contract information that is currently not available or accessible to the District. CHA will rely on prime firms to supplement data not available from MWRD. This information is critical to developing an accurate analysis of the utilization of M/WBEs on District projects. With the support and assistance of business owners, the study will present a complete picture of MWRD’s construction contracting activities. Some firms will be contacted to provide such data. CHA will work with the firms to make the process as easy as possible.

Second, interested persons can be part of the process for anecdotal data collection through several channels.  We will conduct small group interviews of business owners; these sessions are designed for participants to share experiences and insights. Lastly, we encourage any and all written comments and feedback to the dedicated study email address. The information generated from these data collection methods will be an important component of the analysis of whether the M/WBE program remains narrowly tailored. To learn about sessions pertinent to your business or organization, please email CHA at mwrd-study@mwbelaw.com. We also welcome written submissions or other evidence.

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