Albany - Minority businesses are busier than they've ever been in Dougherty County. That may largely be due to the Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
Since it began in Albany in 2000, hundreds of businesses have been certified and have received a combined $76 Million for projects they've been awarded.
Since the SDBU office opened, the amount of money spent with minorities and women has more than tripled, an increase of $56 Million dollars.
"If you didn't start in it, you don't know where to get in it and what our office does is really just help you get in it," says Pinky Douglas, the director of the Office of Small and disadvantaged businesses.
Douglas says it's important that minorities receive a helping hand in getting in the business door. "History shows that minorities have not gotten a fair share of government contracts," says Douglas, "and I don't think it is deliberate discrimination as much as I just think that minorities aren't used to the mainstream."
History also shows the SDBU is having a dramatic effect on the businesses it does help. More than 1100 vendors contacted the office for assistance last fiscal year--35% more than in '04-'05.
County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard says that's great news. He says, "Continuing to grow and giving more dollars to small businesses, small businesses that would not have had those dollars five years ago."
And here's something you may not have known: The SDBU isn't reserved only for minorities. Douglas says anyone who needs assistance can get it here, which will benefit the entire community.
She says, "So many people have been left out of the main stream and don't know how, so we really are a teaching ground."
If you are a small business owner, minority or otherwise, you can also contact the SDBU for assistance.