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System increasing minority business contracts

By Greg Gelpi

The school system is giving about 1,000 times more money to minority and female-owned businesses from a year ago.

The Clayton County school system released a progress report on its efforts to award more contracts to businesses owned by minorities and females. In the past year, the system has advertised bids in more than 20 ways in efforts to reach more minorities and females.

"That's big kudos to them because I never would have known," said Daniel McCoy, the president and owner of Star Construction Group. "I'm not talking about something I've read. I'm talking about something I know."

Star Construction Group built a maintenance storage facility at M.D. Roberts Middle School and is painting three Clayton County schools this summer.

McCoy said that the American dream is about opportunity and that the school system is giving more minorities the opportunity to do business.

He learned of the opportunities and bid process when Brian Miller, the school system's director of facilities auxiliary services, spoke to Rainbow/PUSH.

The purchasing department has created a "sense of inclusion," said David Reid, who helped 25 minority and female-owned companies get contracts with the school system.

Reid said the purchasing department is the "only entity in Clayton County serious about minority and female businesses."

It will take time, but efforts are being made to "level the playing field," he said.

Using a new procedure to draw bids from these businesses, the system went from giving about 0.0006 percent to 7 percent of its funding in the past year based on funding awarded from general fund projects. That is an increase from $6,647.75 to $6,534,902, Miller reported. The school system is shooting for 10 to 15 percent.

Miller said his department is working to determine figures for minority and female businesses who supply companies that receive school contracts or who work as subcontractors to those companies.

About 60 percent of the county is black, said Dexter Matthews, the president of the Clayton County NAACP. Minority-owned businesses should get more contracts than what they are receiving.

"If it's (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) money, then it's a lot of our money," Matthews said. "I think it's an effort, but I don't think there are any efforts to give us big contracts. We do have some large contractors in metro Atlanta that can handle these contracts."

The school system should also require subcontractors to have a certain number of minority employees as well, he said.

"We don't want a quota," Matthews said. "We just want our money."

Clayton County Board of Education Member Ericka Davis expressed concern that some certifications are so costly that they hamper smaller businesses and minority and female-owned businesses from offering bids for contracts.

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners is also exploring ways to attract more minority and female-owned business bids.