Affirmative action program approved in Harris Co.

The Harris County Commissioners Court has voted in approval of an affirmative action program for women and minority-owned businesses to have more opportunities in county contracts.

The new program has the support of many groups, including the support of the Houston contractors association.

The goal of the affirmative action program is to steer 30% of county business to women- and minority-owned businesses.

It will require county departments to make an effort to reach out and select MWBE firms as a prime or subcontractor for every project. 

“I was shocked that $90 out of $100 goes to firms that are owned by white men,” said Michelle Mason, President and CEO Houston Graphic Signs. "That was shocking to me. That tells me I don’t have a chance, so I kinda need a push that opportunity.”

In a study commissioned by the court, Harris County utilized about 9.1% of MWBEs. With the majority of the prime contract and sub contact going to non-MWBE businesses.

Jeff Nielsen with the Houston contractors associations saying they stand behind the program— but they want to make sure the program will run seamlessly. 

“We are supportive in the affirmative action,” said Jeff Nielsen. “The real issue is when it comes to programs like this is the policies.”

Since the program was approved a new office will be formed called the Office of Equity and Economic Opportunity.