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November 20, 2018 2:05pm

A simple policy fix to support minority & women-owned businesses in Kentucky

Minority and women-owned businesses are a key part of Greater Louisville’s regional economy and reflect the diversity of our region. GLI recently sent a letter to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin recommending a simple policy adjustment that could help these businesses grow and expand their operations.

Like many states, Kentucky offers a Minority and Women Business Enterprise Certification Program. In addition to meeting a range of other criteria, these businesses must be 51 percent majority owned by a woman or minority. MWBE certification helps connect qualifying businesses to government entities and other businesses and provides valuable marketing opportunities. Of particular importance to qualifying businesses in Greater Louisville, Indiana offers “reciprocal certification.” Indiana will give Kentucky MWBE reciprocal certification only if the business has a Kentucky state certificate.

Unfortunately, when the Kentucky MWBE program was first established by executive order in 2010, the administration at that time opted to include federal standards of revenue as one of the qualifying criteria, making many large Kentucky-based minority and women-owned businesses ineligible to receive the designation. Indiana MWBEs, meanwhile, are not subject to federal standards of revenue. This not only excludes many minority and women-owned businesses in Kentucky from receiving MWBE certification but also hinders their efforts to do business across the river.

GLI is encouraging the administration to adjust the Commonwealth’s MWBE eligibility criteria to align Kentucky with Indiana when it comes to certifying minority and women-owned businesses. This is a simple and straightforward fix to support all minority and women-owned businesses in Kentucky and to promote economic growth on both sides of the Ohio.