Historically Underutilized Businesses

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 10/7/2013, 8:21 a.m.

The Dallas Examiner

Last week, I attended the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce 13th Annual Conference in Austin. The theme for the conference was “A New Day.”

If you own a business and did not attend the conference, you missed valuable information and an opportunity to dialogue with key players in state government. Expert panelists provided information on:

• How to get capital for your business

• How to do business with the state of Texas

• Insurance and bonding information

• Growing our bottom line

• Health care and your business

Jim Wyatt, chairman of TAAACC, stated that their mission is advocacy, research and training.

According to Wyatt, Texas spent roughly $15 billion in the last biennium and only 1.63 percent was participation from African American firms. This is not acceptable.

Charles O’Neal, a veteran consultant of chamber work, business development and communications, was retained as a consultant in 2012 to TAAACC. O’Neal said some of the state agencies they worked with this year have been receptive. Texas Parks and Wildlife has been the most aggressive and has awarded over 10 contracts since July. However, he said it is really business as usual at most agencies. The state agencies have put emphasis on certification, workshops on “how to do business,” and the state agencies attention is therefore diverted from their dismal numbers.

TAAACC has spent hours working with state legislators from January to June 2013 to attain a legislative agenda. As a result, Memorandums of Cooperation have been initiated with 16 state agencies including Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of Transportation, and Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Last week in my column, I stated that the playing field is still not even for Blacks and many of the programs developed to remedy the lack of access to minorities are not working.

One of these programs is the Historically Underutilized Business Program, referred to as HUB. The goal of the HUB Program is to increase participation of minority- and woman-owned businesses with state agencies.

In 2009, a study was conducted by MGT of America Inc. to find minority and nonminority woman-owned business enterprise disparities. The purpose was for the state of Texas to determine whether there was a compelling interest to continue a narrowly tailored HUB Program as required by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Richmond v. Croson, 488 U.S. 469 (1989).

The study examined the effect of remedial race- and gender-based efforts by Texas to redress ongoing influences of past discrimination in the marketplace. The findings are the basis for any rule revisions required of this agency by Chapter 2161, Government Code.

There are less than 4,000 Black-owned businesses currently certified as HUBs in Texas. The number of Black-owned certified HUB businesses has declined because they are not getting contracts from state agencies as a result of being HUB-certified, therefore they do not bother using their resources to become recertified. If you are not getting business, why continue to get certified; it can be cost-prohibitive.

Unlike Black HUB businesses, White female-owned businesses receive the largest share of business as a result of HUB certification.

What can we do to change this pattern that adversely affects Black HUB businesses? I don’t think that discontinuing HUB certification is the answer.

We must work harder to get state business. We must be active and support TAAACC to put pressure on state agencies. Without pressure there is no action.

Previously, we had nothing to encourage state agencies to utilize Black businesses. Now we have the HUB program and we must make it work for us.

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