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County reaches out to minorities

By Greg Gelpi

The county is continuing efforts to attract more minority and female-owned business contracts.

Reaching out to the community, the Clayton County Central Services Department, Clayton County Board of Education and Clayton County Water Authority presented information to the public about getting county business contracts.

"I've been in the process of moving in that direction," Collis Johnson said. "I'm just trying to find my way through this."

Johnson is the owner of CDK Construction and performs commercial electrical work.

Representatives from each government agency described their bidding process and invited minority and female-owned businesses to place bids on county contracts. The "Learn How to do Business with Clayton County" Workshop was intended to attract more minority business contracts.

Johnson said he found the workshop "helpful" because he was able to meet with those in charge of bidding and purchasing for Clayton County.

Joseph Gabriel, the president of Gabriel Enterprises, said, though, that not enough is being done to get minorities involved in county contracts.

"It doesn't seem the minorities are getting the contracts they should be," Gabriel said. "One reason minorities don't apply is because they don't think they have a chance."

Minority and female-owned businesses are choosing to conduct business in surrounding counties, he said.

"We just want an equal playing field," Gabriel said. "We just want to get a foot in the door."

Wade Brannan, the general manager of the Clayton County Water Authority, said the authority is working on several projects, including a multimillion-dollar water treatment facility on Flint River Road.

"We're looking for all the help we can get the way I look at it," Brannan told the room of about a dozen minority and female-owned business operators. "We're here to help you and try to make sure you can do business in the county."

The Clayton County school system has purged its records of registered vendors and has made concerted efforts to increase minority and female-owned business participation, said Brian Miller, the director of facilities auxiliary services for the school system.

"We've been doing a lot of outreach," Miller said. "This is a great way to get out to the community. We made it really simple to bid out even a small-ticket item."

Clayton County NAACP President Dexter Matthews has said he wants the county to award more contracts to minority-owned businesses since about 60 percent of the county is black.

Matthews has said that Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money is collected from the black community, but isn't returned to the black community through government contracts.