NAACP hosting workshops on county projects

By Billy Corriher

While Clayton County's minority population has swelled, the percentage of county projects going to minority contractors has not always kept pace.

To encourage minority involvement in county projects, the Clayton County Branch of the NAACP is offering a workshop tonight for minority business owners. The workshop is designed to give participants information on obtaining contracts for county work, including projects funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Dexter Matthews, president of the NAACP, said many minority contractors don't know how to bid on the contracts.

Matthews said that less than 5 percent of the school system's contracts go to minorities, even though almost 90 percent of the system's students are minorities.

"It's quite a big problem," he said. "That's a large discrepancy."

Matthews said the county doesn't keep track of minority contracts, but he would guess the numbers are almost the same.

Representatives from the county, the school system, and the water authority will be at the workshop.

"We're trying to let (the contractors) meet those people face to face and have them learn how to get those contracts," he said.

Clayton County Commissioner Virginia Gray said she welcomed any effort to expand minority participation in county contracts.

"A lot of (minority contractors) feel like the door is closed and they don't make the attempt," she said.

Gray said the county is getting better with providing contracts to minority-owned businesses, but needs to get better.

"It's 2004 and we're nowhere near where we need to be in terms of minority participation," she said. "I think we're moving too slowly in that area."

Gray said that many times, minority-owned businesses are too small and can't meet the county's demand.

"Some haven't got to the level where they can meet our demand," she said. "That's something I hope we can address."