Economic Agenda Purposed by the HUB Inclusion Coalition and NC NAACP – GDN Exclusiveby GDN Shared Post April 29, 2020
The NC HUB Coalition and the NAACP economic development committee are convening a series of virtual conferences to address issues that impact HUB (MWBE) businesses. High on the agenda is the creation of the “Support Our HUBs” campaign.
Months ago, Gerry McCants, President, and owner of McCants Communications Group, Inc. told the Executive Committee of the NC NAACP, and several local branches in attendance, during a state conference’s meeting:
“New strategies and planning are needed to properly, and effectively build the strong economic infrastructure the African-American community needs if it intends to build wealth and opportunities for the next generation…”
The chairman for the NC NAACP on economic development, and member of the NC HUB Inclusion Coalition (The Coalition), McCants says the African-American community must become more aggressive when it comes to strengthening its businesses and building healthy partnerships to improve economic opportunities for those businesses.
“Everybody seems to be ready to talk about disparity as it relates to minority companies across the country,” McCants told Greater Diversity News recently, “Particularly African-American companies.” It makes no difference where the companies are in the state or the nation, McCants went on to say, all companies have the same issues.
Under the past leadership of the Honorable Viola Harris, the NC Alliance of Black Elected Officials (the Alliance), gave its enthusiastic support and go-ahead for the Inclusion Coalition to initiate a campaign to promote equity in public spending. The Alliance will serve as the oversight organization for the initiative. The Coalition is chaired by the Honorable Richard Hooker, a past chair of the Alliance and presently a member of the Cleveland County Board of Education. The Coalition will serve as the planning and outreach task team for HUB development.
Black elected officials have a long-standing commitment to supporting economic justice and through the Alliance, has sponsored ongoing disparity studies under the leadership of A & T Professor Emeritus, Forrest Toms and the North Carolina A & T University Department of Leadership Studies. The release of the “Guide” prepared by Dr. Toms and his doctoral students is coming soon, as is a website dedicated to the activities of the Coalition. The Coalition task team is loosely composed of political, business, and civic leaders from around North Carolina.
Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I, Peter Grear, of Greater Diversity News serve on the Coalition task team and will be making observations, doing projections and providing coverage of Coalition activities.
Many Coalition planners recognize that our ultimate success will depend upon support of the NAACP and its local branches. We must have grass root activists involved in our efforts. There is a growing consensus that for our success, the NAACP will need to embrace this initiative and employ a version of its report card strategy to measure the level of support that elected officials are willing to commit to “HUB Inclusion.”
All Coalition supporters agree that candidates that depend upon support by voters of color must make jobs and economic opportunities highly visible parts of their campaigns. Too often, the economic needs of people of color have not been spoken to with any specific action plans, if spoken to at all. The “Support Our HUBs initiative is designed to be one way to address this problem.
Grear says “many GDN readers know that he’s promoted the idea that voters of color should “vote their economics” and written that candidates seeking votes from people of color should pledge to ask the public body that they seek or on which they serve, to adopt Diversity Plans that call for equitable hiring and spending on contracts for goods and services for people of color as well as equity in hiring.
As a Coalition task team seeking pathways to economic equity for Black businesses and communities, we have identified NCGS §§ 142-148 & 143-128.2, Minority Business Participation as, arguably the most important legislation in North Carolina that professes to promote economic equity for HUBs (Historically Underutilized Businesses).
What is required, is the leadership of our activist and elected representatives and local community organizations holding periodic “town hall” meetings to review reports from their public entities. Everyone should help develop new strategies for use in pursuing HUB equity in the public and private economies.
During an election season several years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, wrote a column entitled: Make this election about economic justice. This is advice that we would do well to follow in every election.
Lastly, it should go without saying, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t say it. All members of the Black community, business and otherwise, should be financial, card carrying members of the NAACP.
Historically, communities of color recognized the need to elect public officials to office who work to help pave the way for economic development to occur and businesses to prosper in our communities.
McCants says his role is to bring about awareness, but also help local NAACP branches with their strategic planning for the kind of initiatives they want to see in their communities. That means engaging black-owned businesses that need growth and should be in positions to do regular contract work for all levels of government.
But many still are not, and disparity study after disparity study shows that black businesses get, at most, 3-4% of the contracts let from local and state government. McCants says those numbers haven’t moved at all, thus putting many of those businesses at risk.
“That is absolutely ridiculous,” he exclaimed. “If you don’t have the local economy, you can’t survive. You’re going to be in poverty forever.”
He adds that another part of the solution is finding economic partners outside of the local community and building those business relationships to help those communities grow.”
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