Historic vote helping local business owners

Posted at 8:18 PM, Jun 21, 2018

The Solid Waste Authority will change how they award close 450 million dollars in contracts. Under the new guidelines, race and gender conscious business assistance programs will be re-established at SWA. 

There was a time where Caroline Kennedy didn't think this day would come.

"Today I'm looking for garbage trucks," she said. 

Kennedy is one of few women in Palm Beach County who owns her own trucking and hauling company.

Right now she hauls different types of materials around Lake Okeechobee, but she says that work has started to hurt her trucks.

"When the water level is up basically the trucks can not work," Kennedy said. 

So for the first time Kennedy is preparing to put in a bid with the Solid Waste Authority to pick up garbage. SWA has around 450 million dollars worth of contracts available for small business owners. But until now,  Kennedy says getting one felt close to impossible.

"This is about fair this is not about anything other than just be fair allow us to participate," she said. 

In a 5-2 vote Wednesday, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted to change the way contracts would be awarded. 

A racial disparity study found that more than 95 percent of SWA contracts were going to white men. 

Ann McNeill, founder of the National Association of Black Women in Construction, says if commissioners wouldn't have approved program she was prepared to sue. 

"We have to fight for every single thing when we're black," McNeill said. "So for the black community to come out the way we did yesterday was an indication that we are all sick and tired of being sick and tired and we just can not economically take it anymore."