LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The top elected officials in Los Angeles pledged on Tuesday to help small and minority-owned local businesses win more contracts with the city.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he would develop a “business inclusion program” that would expand the city’s pool of potential bidders to include more small and minority-owned local businesses, which he called “the lifeblood of the Southern California economy.”
“As these businesses prosper, so does the city,” Villaraigosa said. The announcement coincided with the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce releasing a report called “The Case for Minority Business Contracting Reform.”
The report said “the city of Los Angeles — specifically the Mayor’s office — must do all it can to make sure all businesses have an equal opportunity to grow and to contribute to the city’s immediate economic recovery.”
“Reforming contracting policies for minority businesses and enforcing those reforms with every city department and agency is a major step towards bridging the budget divide,” it added.
GLAAAC Chairman Gene Hale said the report found that minority-owned businesses are not receiving what he considered an “adequate share” of business contracts with the city. He called on city leaders to “implement contracting reforms that will broaden opportunities for small local disadvantaged businesses.”
City Councilman Herb Wesson said he supported efforts to help not only minority-owned businesses but small businesses in general to flourish.
“The majority of the jobs that are created not just in the city and state, but in the country, are in small businesses, and those are the ones generally in need of some kind of assistance,” he said.
Since minorities have higher levels of unemployment, the city should make an effort to help businesses that involve them, Wesson said.
“A team is only as strong as its weakest link and if minority businesses are the weaker links, we need to shore them up,” he said.
The GLAAAC report urged the mayor to amend a 1985 executive order to direct city officials to make an effort to do with business local disabled veterans and local “disadvantaged” companies.
The report also called for a study to determine if minority-owned business lag behind others when it comes to winning city contracts.
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