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Minority Construction Jobs and the building of the Sprint Center

By Delores Jones

Kansas City, MO – A little over a week ago, city officials approved the final design for the 250 million dollar Sprint Center - the mayor says it looks like a crystal bowl. Construction begins soon on the city-financed site . . . but some black and Latino contractors and construction workers are concerned that they won't be included on the site.

The Friends of Greater Kansas City Construction and Trade Coalition rallied yesterday to insist that the city do a better job of enforcing the Tax Increment Finance Commissions regulations. The rules state that any project receiving tax incentives should hire 15 percent minority-owned contractors and 7 percent woman-owned. Construction companies are also responsible for hiring the same breakdown of workers on the site.

These rules went into effect in 1994, after a study found that Kansas City area projects were discriminating against minority and woman-owned businesses and workers. The city agreed to monitor construction projects, but last month city officials said they haven't kept up.

So, the city has launched a new, 9-month long disparity study to see whether the situation has gotten any better.

Dr. Eleanor Mason Ramsey of Mason Tillman Associates will be conducting the research she's joining us today over the phone from her office in Oakland, California.

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