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Meeting Report - Feb 13, 2009

Page history last edited by Faye Anderson 10 years, 1 month ago

 

The Coalition for an Equitable Recovery met on Friday, February 13, 2009, in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.  The purpose of the meeting was to develop a strategy to ensure the equitable and full participation of small and disadvantaged businesses in the $787 billion economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

 

The meeting was hosted by Ronald Stroman, staff director of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  Ron noted that time is of the essence.  The coalition needs to immediately start going through the bill to identify programs and opportunities for minority businesses.  He noted the importance of getting organized and working together.  The rate of spending will be enormous over the next two years.

 

The minority business community must craft a plan of action to ensure that federal agencies and state and local governments are held accountable.  The coalition should:

 

  • Craft a multi-faceted strategy to hold federal agencies and state and local governments accountable using existing law and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) related to small and disadvantaged business participation;
  • Identify business opportunities and areas where efforts should be focused;
  • Identify state and local minority business participation requirements;
  • Organize minority business organizations at the state and local level, where infrastructure spending decisions will be made.

 

Leonard McLaughlin, Chief Executive Officer of Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions, provided an overview of his company.  Leonard noted that Aon understands the value of partnering with minority businesses and helping them build their capacity.  He is interested in creating synergies and opportunities for minority businesses, and getting them exposed to figure out how to expand markets and get value from the economic stimulus package. 

 

Leonard noted that partnering with Aon creates instant credibility.  He promised to lend whatever support is needed to move the initiative forward.

        

Kimberly Waller, COO of Aon Cornerstone, said the company recognizes large professional firms have not done a great job partnering with minority businesses.  Aon wants to work with the coalition to make sure issues are vetted appropriately, and build a model with Aon that can be replicated.

 

Al White, Vice President (DC Office) of Hammerman & Gainer, noted that President Obama wants ARRA funds disbursed within 120 days of signing of the bill in order to create immediate job opportunities.

 

Al said the coalition must develop a strategy that leverages President Obama’s commitment to transparency and accountability to ensure minority businesses have full and equitable participation in the recovery plan.  He underscored the need for speed otherwise minority businesses will be left behind.  He observed that history has shown when the government desires to quickly disburse funds, citing Katrina and the Iraq war, contracting opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses is the last thing on their agenda.  The coalition needs to act with all dispatch and implement a strategy so we won’t be overlooked during this economic crisis. 

 

Darryl Dennis, CEO of Wire2Net, recommended using existing statutory language as a baseline for minority business participation.

 

Kenneth Nealy is Senior Appropriations Counsel for Rep. Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.  He said the CBC intends to hold recipients of federal assistance accountable.  CBC members will raise the issue at every congressional hearing.  During the recent House Financial Services Committee hearing on the use of TARP funds, the CEOs of the eight largest banks were asked about minority business participation.  Their response:  We’ll have to get back to the Committee.

 

Ken noted the CBC is currently reviewing all of the sections of the bill.  So far, they have found only one section that directly references minority businesses.  The Transportation provision is as follows:

 

               (14) DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS CONCERNS- The term `disadvantaged business concerns' means small

               businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals as defined in

               section 124, of title 13, Code of Federal Regulations.

 

Since the meeting, the CBC has conducted a more thorough review and found several other sections.  There are at least three provisions of the stimulus bill that directly address minority businesses:

 

               1. On page 91 of Division A:

               $69 million, of which $24 million is for marketing, management, and technical assistance under Section 7(m) of the

               Small Business Act by intermediaries that make microloans under the microloan program, and $20 million is for

               improving, streamlining, and automating information technology systems related to lender and lender oversight

               (minorities are one of the designated beneficiaries of the microloan program).

 

               2. On page 236 of Division A:

               Federal Highway Administration, Highway Infrastructure Investment

               $20 million for disadvantaged business bonding assistance under Section 332(e) of Title 49.

 

               3. On page 560 of Division B:

               In awarding grants, assistance secretary shall, to the extent practicable, consider whether the applicant is a socially

               and economically disadvantaged small business as defined under 15 USC 637(a).

 

Ken further noted there could be provisions that do not explicitly mention “minorities” or “disadvantaged businesses” but are directed toward them.  The provision regarding the 7(m) program mentioned above is one of those.  The CBC will continue to review the bill.

 

While it would have been better to have minority business participation spelled out in the bill, Ron Stroman said the stimulus bill requires compliance with existing procurement statutes.  We have the authority to go forward.

 

Ron said it is also important to have a partner in the White House who makes sure the President’s vision is filtered down to the agencies.  He suggested Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, would be good person for the coalition to reach out to support our mission.

 

Antonio "Tony" Harrison, Director of Outreach for Majority Whip James Clyburn, said the Majority Whip is committed to an agenda of inclusion and ensuring the full participation across the spectrum of government contracting.  Tony suggested the minority participation provisions of TEA 21, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, could serve as a model.  The coalition needs to develop a strategy to bypass governors who are not going to support minority businesses at the state and local levels.

 

Emmit McHenry, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Archura, agreed that we need a White House contact who understands our issues.  He underscored the bill does not change existing law.  Emmit said high priority should be given to addressing access to capital, bundling contracts, and job training in communities with high concentration of unemployment.  He noted the Hispanic community has the same concerns about the administration’s commitment to ensuring the participation of small and disadvantaged businesses.

 

Warner Session of the Session Law Firm said “the who” is important.  We cannot assume the commitment to equitable and fair participation will filter down to the bowels of federal agencies.

 

Tracey Jeter, President of the Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council recommended having point person(s) who have been strong supporters of minority businesses such as Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner.  Virginia has a process in place to ensure accountability for meeting state goals for minority business participation.  It was noted that Virginia has already established a website to solicit project proposals.

 

Tracey said the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is planning a meeting with the administration to gain support for the participation of minority businesses in state and local contracts.

 

Ron White, Partner in Charge, Adorno & Yoss, said the Texas business community is looking for some guidance and information on how the dollars are going to be allocated.  He is spearheading NMSDC’s Minority Impact Committee Public Policy Committee.

 

Next Steps         

  • Identify White House contact who will be the point person on this issue.
  • Schedule meeting with White House contact.
  • Draft document that includes an agency-by-agency review of where the dollars are allocated, program areas and states.
  • Draft sign-on letter to the President expressing concern about the need to ensure the fair participation of minority businesses.
  • Identify other stakeholders that should be asked to sign the letter.
  • Identify other stakeholders that should be at the table, e.g., Congressional Tri-Caucus and Hispanic business groups.
  • Identify organizations that can track spending at the state and local areas.
  • Map minority companies to industry codes so that there is a full range and scope of contracting activity.
  • Identify where we have strong minority business requirements and high concentrations of minority businesses.
  • Develop clear metrics for minority business participation.
  • Develop a model of transparency and accountability for minority business participation at the federal, state and local levels.

 

Working Group

Al White and Emmit McHenry will organize a small working group that will be responsible for going through the bill and identifying agencies and areas for opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.  The group will draft a document with data points and areas of concern.  The document will serve as the basis for further discussion as we seek to broaden the coalition, and meet with agencies to ask about their plans for achieving minority business participation goals.

 

The Bottom Line

What is the strategy to ensure small businesses are included?  Robert Blackwell, Chief Executive Officer of Blackwell Consulting Services captured the coalition’s concerns and focus:  Procurement agents give all the business to big firms and say they will take care of the little guys and they never do.

 

Update

During his February 14 weekly address to the nation, President Obama again addressed the issue of transparency and accountability:

 

               Now, some fear we won’t be able to effectively implement a plan of this size and scope, and I understand their

               skepticism.  Washington hasn’t set a very good example in recent years. And with so much on the line, it’s time to

               begin doing things differently.

 

               That’s why our goal must be to spend these precious dollars with unprecedented accountability, responsibility, and

               transparency. I’ve tasked my cabinet and staff to set up the kind of management, oversight, and disclosure that will

               help ensure that, and I will challenge state and local governments to do the same.

 

The coalition can use President Obama's goal to begin the conversation about tools for monitoring federal, state and local compliance with existing laws regarding small and disadvantaged business participation.

 

Also, the White House is soliciting comments and ideas on the economic stimulus plan.  Coalition members should encourage their constituents to go to the White House web site and leave a comment.  In doing so, we will make the coalition’s existence and concerns known.

 

Participants                                                                                           

Faye M. Anderson

Founder

Tracking Change Wiki

Brooklyn, NY

 

Robert D. Blackwell

Chief Executive

Blackwell Consulting Services

Chicago, IL

 

Darryl H. Dennis

CEO

Wire2Net, LLC

Washington, DC

 

Wande Diakite

National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc.

Washington, DC

 

Andre V. Duggin

AV International, Inc.

Wayne, PA

 

Martin P. Greene

Attorney

Greene and Letts

Chicago, IL

 

Antonio "Tony" Harrison

Director of Outreach

Office of Majority Whip James Clyburn

Washington, DC

 

Tracey G. Jeter, APR

President

Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council

Richmond, VA

 

Herb Long, III

CEO

Legion Design/Campbell & Associates

Washington, DC

 

Emmit McHenry

Founder, Chairman and CEO

Archura, LLC

Great Falls, VA

 

Leonard E. McLaughlin

Chief Executive Officer

Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions

Chicago, IL

 

Kenneth W. Nealy

Senior Appropriations Counsel

Office of Rep. Barbara Lee

Washington, DC

 

Michael O. Osaghae, CPA

President and COO

The Temple Group, Inc.

Washington, DC

 

Troy A. Priest

Attorney at Law

Stroud & Priest, LLC

Baltimore, MD

 

Warner Session

Attorney at Law

The Session Law Firm

Washington, DC

 

Leamon R. Sowell

Senior Counsel

Sowell & Associates PLLC

Detroit, MI

 

Ronald Stroman

Staff Director

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Washington, DC

 

Douglas M. Stringer

Law Clerk & Legislative Assistant

The Session Law Firm

Washington, DC

 

Kimberly Waller

COO

Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions

Chicago, IL

 

Dayton J. Watkins

Managing Director

CEO Capital Group, LLC

Silver Spring, MD

 

Albert E. White

Vice President, Federal Group                                

Hammerman & Gainer, Inc.

Washington, DC

 

H. Ron White

Partner in Charge

Adorno & Yoss

Dallas, TX

 

Organizations Represented

Chicago Minority Business Development Council, Inc.

Michigan Minority Business Development Council

National Minority Law Group

National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc.

Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council

 

Useful Links

ARRA Federal Contract Procurement, as of October 12, 2009

Source: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University

 

An Engine of Opportunity: A User’s Guide to Advocate for Transportation Equity in the 2009 Recovery Act

Source: Policy Link

 

Black-Owned Firms: 2002

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

 

News Stories

Obama wants stimulus projects to hire more minorities, women

Chicago Public Radio report on minority contractors

Minnesota Public Radio report on minority transportation contractors

Women, minorities fear being left out of stimulus projects

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