Restructuring may hurt minority businesses - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Restructuring may hurt minority businesses

By Delivrine Registre - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Dougherty county commissioners question whether women and minority owned businesses will fall through the cracks of the newly restructured Small and Disadvantaged business office.

That office was dismantled last month after the city and school board pulled their funding. The office will now focus on helping all small businesses instead of just those that are minority-owned.

Employees in that office say most small businesses in our area are owned by women or minorities. And by helping all small businesses, they would be helped indirectly. But commissioners say this is no guaranteed.

The transition continues within the office of Small and Disadvantaged Business. "It'll have more teeth in it than the situation that we have now. We will have a lot more control," said county commissioner, Jack Stone. 

Contractors placing bids on government projects will now be required to subcontract a specific percentage of their work to locally based small businesses. "The bottom line is it will bring more small businesses and jobs here to our local area," said Stone.

"The downside and worst case scenerio is that all of those businesses could be something other than minority businesses. And that is a real concern, and something I can not support," said county commissioner, Gloria Gaines.

Businesses providing goods or services would be pulled from seven surrounding counties. Businesses working on construction projects would choose from a larger pool.

"We are talking about 28 counties. So that money could definitely be going outside of Albany and Dougherty," said Gaines.

Pinky Modeste is the director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged business, and says based on demographics she is confident that minority businesses would still benefit.

"Based on the disparity study it can be done, and it can be done very well because the availability is here," said Modeste.

But commissioners say they want to see results. "The proof is in the pudding, and we have to see that," said Gaines.

Results that only will only come with time. "After we do it and get into place and do it for years, we can look at where we are at," said Stone.

Six people will lose their jobs during the Small Business Office reorganization  as it goes from a department of seven to an office of one.

The Dougherty County Commission will make the changes to the Small Business Office official when they vote on the budget June 29th.

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