Minority contractors speak out about CPS building project - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Minority contractors speak out about CPS building project

By Regina Russo – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Mark Hodge is the owner of Hodge and Son Masonry Contractors. He's been in business for more than 35 years.

"I'm third generation, I'm passing it on to my sons and it's going to be something that's done for quite awhile," said Hodge.

Their craftsmanship you can see all over the city - like at the Theodore Berry International Friendship Park. 

But there's one job he can't get - part of the Cincinnati Public Schools' $1 billion building project.

"We're qualified why can't we do it?" said Hodge.

Here's how he says it works. Big construction companies bid on big chunks of building projects that include electric, roofing and stone work, they seek bids from small businesses like Hodge and include it in their bid. When they get the work, they either don't call Hodge at all or tell him they're using their own people. So on paper they've got minority subcontractors.

"The reality is the good ole boy system is still in place," said Hodge. "That coupled with what he says is a crippling red tape system makes it impossible for small businesses to compete."

"Our supplier diversity numbers aren't what they should be they should be higher," said Mary Ronan, Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent.

 The District agrees that the system is flawed so they are making changes.

"Break down bids, monitor, keep an eye on good faith efforts, help small businesses partner with big contracts," said Ronan.

Superintendent Ronan acknowledges that all eyes are on the district to make this happen.

"We're in the last 1/3rd in the facilities master plan, but can be a model for Banks casino, so we're need to look at regionally to see how we can  improve things in our city," she said.

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