Small/Disadvantaged Office changing shape - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Small/Disadvantaged Office changing shape

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Small and Disadvantaged business office in Albany is being dismantled because the city and board of education which contribute 85 percent of its funding, are pulling out. That means the county would have to pay the seven employees.

So the office will be re-structured to just one employee whose primary goal will be to help small business owners land government contracts.

The office of small and disadvantage business in Albany was created to help minorities, often left out of government contracts, get business. But a disparity study completed last year, says assigning minority participation goals based on race, isn't fair.

Pinky Modeste said, "It won't be focused on ethnicity anymore. We won't worry about the five minority groups. It will be based on your financial status and where you're located."

When the office, now paid for by four entities disbands June 30th, director Pinky Modeste will have the duty of helping small businesses get contracts with the county.  She said, "I'm proud of the fact that we have matured enough and we've grown enough that we can do this."

Cassandra Miller is the President of the Albany Diversity Council. It's her goal to see small businesses in Albany grow.  Miller said, "Our goal is over the next two to three years, is to help between 100-300 businesses grow and become $500,000-$1 Million or higher in revenues."

And she thinks the focus shift from minority to small business is a good thing. "I see it really as a positive because right now, if we can just help small businesses and I say whether they're pink, blue, green, white or black, just help small businesses. It will help our community."

Over the next several weeks, the county commission will be discussing how they plan to structure the new small business office.

The Water, Gas & Light Commission and Albany Tomorrow also contributed to the consortium that funded the small and disadvantaged business office. Albany Tomorrow dismantled in December. WG&L will now also work to help match up small businesses with contracts.

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