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Virginia Beach receives update on disparity study

NFL Hall-of-Famer Bruce Smith pushed for the study after he claimed city officials discriminated against minority business owners and women.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach City Council received an update on the city's disparity study on Tuesday.

NFL Hall-of-Famer Bruce Smith pushed for the study after he claimed city officials discriminated against minority business owners and women.

RELATED: NFL great Bruce Smith calls for racial disparity study, pledges to pay for half of it

“I’m very happy to see that the report has been done, that the recommendation has been issued and that there are some measurements about our progress,” explained councilman Michael Berlucchi

The progress comes after a report found less than 19% of city contracts were awarded to women and minority-owned businesses between 2012 and 2017.

The diversity report shows how many minorities, women and service-disabled veterans own businesses across the city. In 2019 alone, minority and women-owned companies received more than $57 million in contract awards. 

RELATED: VB Council acknowledges racial disparity for city contracts, shifts focus to potential fixes

Councilmember Michael Berlucchi said different groups of people should be included in this study. City leaders said that is a question for the city attorney.

“It’s worthwhile to consider how to expand that to consider other people who have historically been underserved such as the LGBTQ community, such as other minorities on the basis of their religion or other categories," Berlucchi said based on the findings of the study.

Officials said they plan to continue to track minority-owned and women-owned companies. This year, officials expanded their outreach including adding a small business resource center inside a Virginia Beach public library.

City leaders say they want to improve their data collection, have a designated office and to continue their programs and resources for minority business owners.