Gerry McCants Proposes Economic Equity Agenda for The NC NAACPby Cash Michaels Contributing writer February 12, 2018
A GDN Exclusive:
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 the recent state conference’s winter meeting.
“New strategies and new 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…”
McCants Communications, in business for 27 years, is probably best known for publishing the popular Black Pages USA, the premiere black business advertising magazine distributed throughout the Southeast regionally, that features important profiles, advertisers, and yellow and white pages information.
The Columbia, S.C. native is also the former statewide president of the North Carolina Black Chamber of Commerce.
The statewide chairman for the NC NAACP on economic development, 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 the disparity as it relates to minority companies across the country,” McCants told Greater Diversity News recently. “Particularly African-American companies.”
It made no difference where the companies were in the state or the nation, McCants went on to say, all of those companies had the same issues.
The main issues
And one of the main issues was the need to elect public officials to office who work to help pave the way for economic development to occur, and prosper in communities of color.
“We talked about the collaboration we need to have [with] elected officials, and their roles in terms of how they’re looking at the whole economic space for African-Americans and the African-American community,” McCants said. “If you’re an elected official, and you’re not able to deliver the kind of resources, and the impact you need to have on black communities…we need to do something different.”
“They’re elected for a reason…,” McCants continued, “…to make that the quality of life for people who live particularly in these rural communities…we’ve got to be able to put some resources, transfer some of those resources to some of these rural communities. They’ve got to go all the way to Charlotte, or Raleigh, Durham to get access to anything, and that’s ridiculous.”
Ensuring that economic development is very much a part of the NC NAACP’s statewide social justice agenda, McCants says he wants to see every local NAACP branch have a designated economic development chair to spearhead targeted efforts. Establishing that also helps to build collaborative efforts with local elected officials, with the ultimate goal being attracting more resources to both urban and rural communities.
“If we’ve got elected officials, whether they’re black or white, and they can’t deliver, then we need to do something totally different. They don’t need to represent those communities.”
“That’s a major issue,’ McCants continued. “Why invest in a system , paying taxes etc., and all of the money is going to the other side of town? That makes absolutely no sense.”
Gerry McCants bringing awareness
McCants says his role is to bring about awareness, but also help local NAACP branches with their strategic planning per what kind of initiative they want to see in their communities. That means engaging black-owned businesses that certainly need growth, and should have been in equitable positions to do regular contract work for local governments years ago.
But many are still 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.”