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Baker Files Bill To Assist Minority And Women-Owned Businesses

Flanked by Mattapan Rep. Russell Holmes and the owner of a minority-owned architecture and design firm in Boston, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday outlined new legislation he said will increase opportunities for minority- and women-owned business to secure public construction contracts.

The legislation the administration filed on Thursday would increase the number of projects on which the state could enforce participation goals for companies owned by minorities and women. It would also increase targets for each group, with a combined goal of 13% participation on construction projects and 21.6% at the design phase, up from 10.4% and 17.9% respectively. Baker said minorities and women in the construction industry currently face barriers to entry that white-owned businesses do not, including a catch-22 that requires experience with public construction in order to become a subcontractor.

"These are barriers that are systemic that have been built over 400 years," Holmes said.

Greg Minott, who emigrated from Jamaica in 1999 and started the architecture firm DREAM Collaborative, said small, minority-owned firms like his struggle with the administrative burdens of applying for sub-contracts on public projects and face competition from more established firms with experience requirements they can't meet because they can't get awarded any public projects.

"We're hoping that these goals are not a ceiling, but a floor," Minott said.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who reflected on the construction company her great-grandfather started after coming to the United States from Italy, said her family has only been successful because people gave her great-grandfather a chance to prove himself.

"We need to be intentional about this," she said.

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