Minority Enterprise Growth and Needs Study

A woman sits at a glass table in an office looking at a tablet computer. Off screen, another person is using a laptop computer at the same table.

Our Challenge

With a community that is 30% African American, 10% Latino, and 12% Foreign-born, Nashville is a diverse metropolis in the midst of significant economic growth and development. While the economic benefits of entrepreneurship and diversity are often recognized, diverse businesses have not been able to fully enjoy Nashville's rapid expansion. While the U.S. Census shows that nearly one-fourth of all businesses owned in Nashville and Davidson County are operated by people of color, only a fraction of Metro's contract awards are to minority owned businesses. This reality is contributing to existing and growing disparities within the Metro Nashville Business Community.  
The real question, then, is why? While there have been several studies which have revealed and explored existing disparities between Non-Minority and Minority-owned businesses in Nashville, the Minority Enterprise Growth and Needs Study seeks to gain a detailed understanding of the specific barriers which inhibit the growth and development of minority-owned businesses on an individualized level.
With this information, Metro desires to be more strategic on how to support, service, and empower minority businesses to share in Nashville's prosperity. Metro recognizes now, more than ever, the need to become more inclusive to help grow a competitive economy. The knowledge and data gained from this study will only further these efforts.

What Is an MBE? 

A minority business enterprise (MBE) is a for-profit business that is 51% owned and controlled by a member of a recognized ethnic minority group.

Nashville Demographics

Diversity is one of Nashville's notable attributes.
With a population of over 650,000 residents, 240,000 are either minorities or New Americans.
According to the U.S. Census data for Nashville and Davidson County, there are over 16,000 minority business enterprises (MBEs) in both Metro Nashville and the County. Minorities comprise over 40% of our population and own nearly one quarter of all local businesses. 

Why It Matters

While Nashville has programs in place to promote the participation of diverse businesses, given the gap in MBE participation, growth, and development, barriers remain to helping them reach their full potential. To better address these disparities, we need to understand the root causes — here's how the study will help accomplish this: 
black male business owner

Identify Barriers

The Minority Enterprise Growth and Needs Study will provide demographic information about the Davidson County MBE community, seek to identify their barriers to growth, and ways Metro can strategically address them.

Strategic Solutions 

With data from the study, Metro can identify specific steps and be intentional with strategies to eradicate barriers through education and supportive services.

Collecting Results  

Griffin & Strong P.C., ("GSPC") is an Atlanta-based law and public policy consulting firm who is conducting the Minority Enterprise Growth and Needs study. The GSPC team is led by national expert, Attorney Rodney K. Strong, one of the principal architects of the City of Atlanta Equal Business Opportunity ("EBO") Program, which has been one of the model MWBE programs since its inception.
The GSPC team boasts expertise in emerging innovations and established best practices in MWBE Research, including Program Development, implementation, and is also accomplished in Supplier Diversity Consulting overseeing MWBE Participation in several large public-private development projects.
GSPC is also conducting the 2018 Metro Nashville Disparity Study, due for delivery in 2018.


Rodney K. Strong

Our Partners

  • Department of Finance (Business Assistance Office & Office of the Director)
  • Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity & Empowerment
  • Mayor’s Office of Economic & Community Development
  • Griffin & Strong, P.C. (GSPC)

Our Goals

The data obtained by the Minority Enterprise Growth and Needs study will allow Metro agencies to better provide support to MBEs. This can have a huge impact on the over 16,000 current MBEs (as well as future minority-owned businesses) in Davidson County. All of Metro benefits when we take steps to level the playing field and spur economic growth. 
Our goal is for the study to provide: 
  • Comprehensive data on Davidson County MBEs
  • A thorough understanding of barriers to growth and participation in public contracting.
  • An analysis of most effective way to coordinate supportive services
  • Strategic steps to spur the growth of MBEs


See More PIP Projects

Public Investment Planning is an innovative approach to budgeting, launched in 2016, that challenges Metro departments and agencies to think creatively about how they can collaborate on pilot initiatives to better serve Nashville-Davidson County residents. Learn more at http://www.nashville.gov/Finance/Public-Investment-Plans.aspx.