The Nashville Black Chamber recently held a social, giving African American business professionals and entrepreneurs the unique opportunity to connect with each other and join the organization.
According to Chamber President Carolyn Waller, the socials are good events for building business relationships.
“The objective is to give you the opportunity to meet new people, expand your business and build networks and relationships, that’s big with [the chamber], and we also hope that you join our organization as well,” she said to attendees.
Chamber board chair, Susan Vanderbilt, echoed Waller’s sentiment adding: “As African Americans we are social, so let’s do it and put a business undertone to it.”
During the social, the chamber took the opportunity to have one of its board members, Davita Taylor, who is the chief procurement officer at Metro Nashville Airport Authority, educate attendees about the new disparity study and what it means to African American businesses in Nashville.
The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not Metro Nashville was spending its procurement dollars proportionally to the amount of minority and women-owned businesses in the market.
“The answer for Metro is no, they are not, so in fact, there really is a disparity,” said Taylor. “The last time the [city] had a disparity study, they decided that they were going to use what we call race and gender-neutral measures to solve the disparity.”
For years African American businesses have complained that without those goals, they were not getting much business from government spending because of a program with no ‘teeth.’
“It’s not necessarily the metropolitan business office’s failing, it was really what was codified: a race and gender-neutral program,” said Taylor. “You can only execute what was given. So if you’re given something that doesn’t have teeth – you don’t really have a lot to work with.”
According to Taylor, the big push is that to make sure that with this study Nashville makes sure to have a race and gender-conscious program, one that has a requirement to do business with minority and women-owned businesses.
“What we are asking you to do is to make yourselves knowledgeable because it affects you,” she said to attendees. “We’ll have to live with this another five years, so if they turn around and codify something that isn’t goal based, we’ll be in the same spot we were five, 10, 15 years ago.”
Taylor encouraged attendees to go to YouTube and type in ‘9/17/18 disparity study presentation.’
“It will pop up the whole presentation the consultant did-it is something you definitely need to make sure to watch,” she said. “It gives you the history of what has happened, it tells you why they chose the race and gender-neutral method the last time, it tells you why it didn’t work, why they are pushing for something stronger, what those recommendations are, and what they mean to you.”
Also at the social, chamber members mentioned that they are hosting their 20th Year Anniversary and Awards Luncheon on October 25 at the Westin hotel. Ron Busby, president/CEO, US Black Chamber, Inc. will be the keynote speaker.
Disparity study recommendations:
1. Refinement of the current program
2. Reconciliation of the Metro Code of Ordinance
3. Institute MWBE subcontracting goals
4. Goal setting on public-private projects and economic development projects
5. Communications, outreach, and forecasting
6. Robust supportive services
7. Increased resources and training in contract compliance
8. Bonding and insurance review
9. Small business reserve prime program
10. Reform data infrastructure
This article appeared in the Nashville Pride.