Minorities frozen out of contracts? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Minorities frozen out of contracts?

May 1, 2007

Albany --  City commissioners plan to spend hundreds of thousands dollars on yet another study. This time, they hope to find out if contracts are awarded fairly, if minority contractors get a fair shake at government jobs.

For $300,000 , they'll follow up on two previous studies that showed there was disparity in the way contracts were awarded. By the time this one's done, the city will have spent $663,000 studying this one issue.

Charlie Quimbley says part of the Albany business community is disappearing, and it's all because of an obvious disparity in the way government contracts are awarded. "We've done three before and they've all shown us what we've known before that there is a wide disparity in the money in this community."

A community he says is disappearing. "You have a community here that's slowly dying."

Dying out because of a lack of work, even though there are plenty of available projects. "It's a hostile community out here," he says.

Hostile to the minority workforce, even though minorities are the majority of the population in Dougherty County.

"That disparity should not exist, especially in a place where African Americans are the majority, however there are some social and economic factors that cause an imbalance," said City Manager Alfred Lott.

City Manager Alfred Lott says the $320,000 study will pinpoint problems with the small and disadvantaged business office which is supposed to help regulate the percentage of minority participation with government contracts.

Quimbley, President of South Georgia minority contractors say until commissioners enforce their own policies, the disparity will continue. "The commissioners themselves, really are the bottom of it."

And he says when bids go out, the commissioners need to make sure everyone who can participate, does.

Lott says, "We want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to compete."

The study will reveal problems that have occurred in the past and pinpoint which areas need to be targeted.

Sales tax money will be used to pay for the study.

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