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Philadelphia's Black Business Leaders Called to Pursue Government Contracts

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Money can be made from government contracts, especially from pandemic relief for America’s Rescue Program. Black business owners were told Friday they must be ready to apply.

“My email inbox is flooded with inquiries from white voters,” Rep. Darisha Parker, who represents Philadelphia’s 198th District, told a large group of black business leaders on Friday. Told.

“So where’s everyone? I call you to come to the table and get ready. Have your elevator pitch, your paperwork, your proposal package ready, and stay on top of what’s holding you back,” Parker said. said with applause. “Then call my cell phone”

That was the message from local officials and mayors across the country who met for three days in Philadelphia last week. The African American Chambers of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware hosted the 2nd National Convention of Black Mayors, a series of debates, receptions and roundtables on black entrepreneurship, equity and local economies .

Regina Hairston, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce, encourages local business owners to reach out to elected officials and adjust the budget cycle (when city and state prime contractors and subcontractors are funded). ) to be kept informed.

“Many people don’t grow up in families that talk about stuff like this. But the Chamber of Commerce will lobby for you and make sure you’re ready,” he said. Hairston told a gathering at P4 Hub, a black-owned co-working space on Wayne Avenue on Friday.

At a panel discussion on Friday, Jovan Goldstein, owner of JTGoldstein, a Philadelphia-based tax accounting and business advisory firm, said clients often ask how the government is doing business.

“We had a five-year contract with a local government that allocated 25% to minorities. In 2021, we updated and added women to our list of subcontractors. It was strong,” Goldstein said. . “The main contractor has given her 40% of the work to minority- and women-owned businesses.”

Former CEO and founder of Philadelphia-based Union Packaging, Michael K. Pearson says entrepreneurship is the best path to success, especially for the black community trying to close the wealth gap. says it is. He currently serves on the board of the Philadelphia Foundation.

During his career, he said:

Goldstein recalls the pivotal decision of Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, in the 1970s to negotiate 25 percent of the contract for the new airport to go to black workers and contractors. At a time when Atlanta was becoming an air travel hub, Jackson requested to receive a business building and part of the operations of a new terminal at what is now called Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It was named after former mayors William B. Hartsfield and Jackson.

“Business is subject to government, but there is an obligation to form public-private partnerships,” says Goldstein.

Hardy Davis, Mayor of Augusta, Georgia, added: [about the needs] After the fact. So be intentional about your question. Come to us first before you hit those barriers. Often we don’t even know about the problem. ”

Hairston told attendees, including the mayors of Augusta, Cleveland, Montgomery, Alabama, St. Louis, Chester, Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green, and former mayor Michael Nutter, that black-owned businesses have money. said to know , and his leader in regional business.

Under Mayor Jim Kenny, the administration can set aside more than $800 million in federal pandemic relief from the American Rescue Plan, which provides a total of $1.4 billion to city coffers. Despite the city council’s approval of his $575 million reduction, the administration will stay with his $250 million aid this year, and Kenny’s proposed budget will use up to $335 million next year. I was planning to.

Hairston didn’t skimp on the election of the city’s next mayor. In 2024, when Kenny’s term expires, all people.

Parker concluded Friday’s panel by urging black business owners to follow city and state budget calendars.

“Don’t come to me in June or July when the budget deal is already done,” she said. “Start lobbying sooner. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get involved and do something across generations.”