The Glover Report: Empowering Baltimore’s MBEs: CREATING WIN-WIN SCENARIOS FOR ALL INVOLVED

BLACK CONTRACTORS MATTER

By Doni Glover, Publisher
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(BALTIMORE – April 1, 2022) – Baltimore business leaders and contractors rallied Wednesday at Baltimore City Hall to bring attention to the state of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) in Baltimore. In short, these business people believe wholeheartedly that Black businesses are not receiving proper treatment.

Former Baltimore City Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office Chief Tamara Brown, Wayne Frazier, President & CEO of the Maryland-Washington Minority Companies Association, and Doni Glover, publisher of BmoreNews.com spoke.

The rally coincided with the Board of Estimates Meeting. The purpose was and is to bring attention to the sad state of affairs for minority businesses in the City of Baltimore.

“The injured minority businesses in Baltimore City have consequently been mistreated and not paid,” said Frazier. He added, “They are looking for drastic changes by the City of Baltimore adhering to its own policies.”

In August 2001, a study was released. It was entitled, BLACK JOB APPLICANTS AND THE HIRING OFFICER’S RACE.

Authors included Michael A. Stoll School of Public Policy and Social Research, Steven Raphael of the Goldman School of Public Policy University of California, Berkeley and Harry J. Holzer of Georgetown University.

The study confirmed common sense: “Black employers tend to hire blacks at greater rates than do their white counterparts. Firms where blacks are in charge of hiring (or black employers) are considerably more likely to employ blacks than are firms where whites are in charge of hiring (or white employers).”

For me, we have to take that a step further – as we have seen in other prominently Black cities, like Washington D.C. and Atlanta. When we have a Black mayor, a Black city council president, a Black comptroller and a majority Black city council, we need all of their support in substantially ensuring that Black businesses doing business with the City of Baltimore are being treated fairly, to say the least.

When we look at the late Herman J. Russell in Atlanta and Don Peebles in Washington, D.C., God it makes you wonder where our new Black millionaires are in Baltimore. Doesn’t it? Think about it. We’ve had a line of Black mayors in Baltimore, too. Right? The question remains, though, how well did they help create new Black wealth? Not those who were already headed to success, but the news ones.

And that’s exactly why yesterday’s rally and ongoing efforts are so important. I want our young Black businessmen and -women to know that we all stand on the shoulders of giants – giants like Robert Lee “Bob” Clay and Arnold Jolivet, both of whom were staunch minority business advocates. People like Henry Parks, Ray Haysbert and Dorothy Brunson showed us long ago that we could take our businesses public and create unprecedented opportunities if we have the guts. They showed us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.

And so, let March 31st, 2021 go down in history as an affirmation that this is a new era for Black businesses in Baltimore. Let it mark a new page in the chapter of our journey, one where ensuring Black businesses succeed is a mandate in the office of every City Councilmember, every state Delegate, every state Senator, every member of Congress, every Mayor and every Governor in our state … Democrat or Republican – Black, White, Asian, Latino, Native American and otherwise.

Let this be a new way of viewing our beloved Black businesses in Baltimore – hit as hard if not harder than all other businesses.

One of the signs held yesterday at the rally read that nothing has changed in 30 years. I was taken aback. Flashbacks of Robert Lee “Bob” Clay and other Black contractors protesting in front of City Hall in the 80s flashed before my eyes. So, too, did the voice of Arnold Jolivet, Esquire come to mind.

Titans like them made a regular habit of rallying on Wednesdays and making people pay attention to the distribution and quality of contracts going and not going to Black businesses in Baltimore. The Board of Estimates Meeting is held on Wednesdays. This is where many contracts are voted on and where Black contractors tend to get a sliver of a slice, historically, compared to white companies. And when Black contractors are afforded a sub-contract, the reports suggest the white prime contractors barely want to pay them.

Simply put, a Black contractor can easily go out of business while waiting to get paid. And in the middle of a pandemic, it’s even worse. While 17% of white businesses have closed, 41% of Black businesses have closed. As the adage goes, when white America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.

It’s simple math. The economy is the backbone of any community or city. In a majority African American city where the mayor, city council president and the comptroller are all Black, it only makes sense that they ought to be helping facilitate increasingly more business opportunities to Black contractors, and not just in construction. Tens of millions of dollars are voted on all the time without amply Black participation.

We have to see the reality we’ve been forsaking as a city. As we empower our Black business, something marvelous begins to unfold: Baltimore’s Black businesses can hire more Black people!

More Black people working means less Black people breaking law. After all, the best deterrent to crime is a J.O.B.

It’s a win-win for all of the community. Less murders means more money can be spent on attracting conventions and other outreach efforts. If Baltimore is ever going to reach its potential, even amidst impending gentrification, it must do right by Black businesses and Black people, overall.

Say informed by visiting Black Contractors Matter on Facebook. #blackcontractorsmatter

PS

I do not consider myself a minority. Frankly, I despise the term. Worldwide, people of color are the majority. However, for the sake of the topic (MBEs), I relaxed my stance. I also think the MBE programs, initially started to correct the historical discrimination against Black businesses, have lost their focus, especially when I see white women fronting for white male-owned businesses. Further, considering the paperwork involved in becoming an MBE, I’ve always questioned if it is worth the energy, time and money involved in the process. It’s like having to prove you are Black (chicanery).  

Photos by W. Frazier, MWMCA