KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The City of Knoxville is launching a four-phase plan to get more disadvantaged business enterprises more involved in city contracts following the completion of a comprehensive study.

The goal of the study was to help local businesses owned by women, minorities and disabled veterans compete for and be awarded city contracts.

“Miller3, our consultant, reached out to over 3,000 business owners and we had 366 respond to the surveys about our process,” City Purchasing Agent Penny Owens said. “So, I think we’re pretty pleased with that. We’ve gotten some good feedback from the community.”

This is the first study of its kind in Knoxville in 25 years. The city has now begun the first phase of their plan to aid making it easier on Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE’s) to attain a bigger share of these contracts.

“There are definitely opportunities both from a non-race and gender conscious effort and from race and gender conscious efforts to give more business to those DBE firms to offer more opportunities,” Owens said.

Knoxville awards $110 million in contracts every year. Owens said that she is very hopeful that this plan will have the intended effect.

“I hope it will have a very strong impact on the economy, especially with our small businesses, our diverse businesses,” Owens said. “It’s very important for them to do well.

A link to the full study can be found here.