On Monday, March 7, Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order establishing a community coalition to identify the challenges faced and propose solutions to strengthen minority-owned businesses in Chattanooga.
This task force will pull together a group of businesses owners, community leaders, and economic development experts to develop an action plan and provide recommendations directly to Mayor Berke.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, March Mayor Berke met with over 40 business owners during an African-American Business Owners Breakfast hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). During the breakfast, business owners heard about the resources provided by the City of Chattanooga, discussed ways to grow their businesses, and described issues they face.
“There is no doubt that the City and the community can do more to help strengthen and grow our minority-owned businesses,” said Berke. “Through this order, we will put the structure in place, get the right people to the table, and find the solutions that will help Chattanooga’s minority businesses compete in the 21st century economy.”
The Berke Administration has made the success of diverse businesses a priority, especially as it pertains to increasing the number of contracts awarded to minority-owned businesses. Prior to April of 2013, the City of Chattanooga’s purchase and contract rate for minority-owned businesses was around 2 percent. Through OMA’s Supplier Diversity program, the City of Chattanooga now sustains an annual rate of 13.5 percent.
“While the City will continue to sustain and improve our engagement with minority-owned businesses, we want all businesses – whether they are doing business with the City or not – to have access to opportunity,” said Berke. “The City and the community have a role to play in strengthening our minority-owned businesses, as their success is directly linked to the success of Chattanooga as a whole.”
Through his Executive Order, Mayor Berke will appoint members to the Task Force and charge the Task Force with providing recommendations no later than one year from its first meeting.
“This is a welcome announcement,” said Linda Murray Bullard, owner of LSMB Business Solutions, a local business and personal development consulting firm. “We know there are missed opportunities for African-American and other diverse business owners throughout the city. By starting a candid conversation about the topic, followed up with an action plan, we can start to see some movement on this important issue.”
Source: Mayor Berke