Black Businesses Getting Organized

NAACP Economic Development Committee Co-Chair Alex Coure addresses a group of African American business owners last week.

By Peter White

NASHVILLE, TN – The NAACP is organizing black businesses to get more city contracts. A small group of African American entrepreneurs met last week with District 5 Councilman Scott Davis.

Davis told the group he’s going to introduce a bill in February to strengthen

the city’s Procurement Nondiscrimination Program (PNP).

Davis shared the draft bill to members of the Barry administration that has dismissed past complaints from minority businesses. “They are starting to come around because certain people can’t get elected without our support,” Davis said.

For a decade, the PNP has underutilized minority businesses with the exception of white women who have done better than other DBEs. DBE stands for disadvantaged business enterprise. It is a catch-all acronym for small, minority, women, and service disabled veteran owned businesses.

Metro has a business assistance office (BAO) that is supposed to help minorities grow their businesses but it has a poor record. “We went through all Metro contracts for the last five years,” said Don Majors, Co-Chair of NAACP Economic Development Committee.

Finance Department statistics show more than ninety-five percent of prime contract dollars and ninety-two percent of subcontract dollars went to other than black or women-owned businesses in Nashville between 2012-2016.

“Black-owned businesses received just 1.9 percent of the total contract expenditures in the last five years,” said Alex Coure, Co-Chair of the NAACP Economic Development Committee.

“What this proves for African Americans is that the PNP is a total failure,” said former Councilman Don Majors.

Census figures indicate there are about 16,600 minority-owned businesses in Davidson County. Only about 600 are registered with the BAO as DBEs and 212 are registered as black-owned. The NAACP has checked and they say some black-owned companies on BAO’s list are not actually owned by African Americans.

For example, Global Industrial Components sold $2.7 million worth of fasteners to build the Music City Center. The company is based In Woodbury but does business all over the globe. On Music City Center’s DBE list it is labeled as an African American company. The founder and CEO, Gerald Toledo, is Cuban.

Another firm, Shrop-Vickers, earned $3.2 million in the Music City construction project. It was listed in their DBE report as a black-owned business, but, according to the NAACP, the owner is white.

Roger Ligon and Don Hardin are two prominent building contractors in Nashville. Both told the Tribune they no longer bother to bid on city contracts.

”I don’t chase government work that much anymore. I have to work with what I have a shot at getting,” Ligon told the Tribune.

The City Council passed the “Do Better Bill” on January 2, 2018.  It is a related piece of legislation that aims to get better jobs and training for residents with companies doing business with the city.

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