Business Inclusion Initiative

The Challenge

A disparity study in 2018 established that the City of Asheville contracting continues to exhibit significant racial and gender disparities. In other words, the demographics of businesses we contract with do not reflect the demographics of our community.

This initiative through the Asheville Business Inclusion Office undertakes both internal process reform and external business support, as well as capacity-building, in order to help eliminate these disparities.

What’s Happening Now?

Over the course of 2020, City staff from across different departments developed the City of Asheville Business Inclusion Contracting Policy, which is a race and gender conscious policy. The policy contains specific measures designed to increase the use of minority- and women-owned businesses in City contracting. It was passed by City Council in October 2020.

Over the first few months of 2021, we’ve held trainings for staff, developed tools, forms, and resources for staff to more effectively implement the policy, and launched MWBE Certification. Over the next few months, we plan to reach out to as many BIPOC and women business owners as possible to grow our database of vendors who are ready, willing, and able to work on City contracts. This will help us reach our goals to reduce disparities. We’ll also continue to work with staff and the community in the coming months and years to ensure this policy is successful in all its aims.

We are actively working on data systems that will allow us to provide ongoing performance results and will also soon share a report on last year’s results, which we will share here. For now, the 2018 Disparity Study provides an initial baseline for our performance. The report shows that, except for white women and Latinx/Hispanic business owners in construction, both women and minorities face significant disparities (a disparity index below 80 reflects substantial under-utilization).


Opportunities to Engage

Want to connect with local resources, trainings, grant and loan opportunities, and the Business Inclusion Office? Check out and subscribe to the Business Inclusion Office newsletter below. We send out newsletters about twice per month.




Business Inclusion News

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Contact Information

  • Business Inclusion Office


    City of Asheville
    70 Court Plaza, Fifth Floor, Asheville NC 28801

    Mail to:
    City of Asheville
    P.O. Box 7148, Asheville NC 28802

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