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New plan for small business.

Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson has implemented new Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) legislation to mitigate the effects of discrimination against minority and female-owned businesses. The race-neutral program, which offers bonding, financial and technical assistance to small business owners, is an attempt to facilitate total participation in city contracts. The plan was prepared in response to the Croson v. City of Richmond Supreme Court decision, which declared race-based, set-aside programs as unconstitutional unless discrimination was documented. If it proves successful, other cities may adopt similar programs to counteract the deterioration of affirmative-action initiatives in the 1980s.

The five-year program calls for annual contracting goals of 30% for black-owned businesses, 3% for female-owned businesses, and 1% each for Asian, Hispanic and American Indian-owned businesses. The Atlanta Office of Contract Compliance (OCC) will decide how the goals will be applied to each city project. The OCC will track the progress of minority firms and document discrimination and noncompliance with the good-faith measures.

"Smaller firms will benefit significantly, because they will be able to participate in large contracts from the city," says Robert Tyler, vice president of The Thacker Organization, an Atlanta construction management firm ranked No. 15 on the BLACK ENTERPRISE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with sales of $45.6 million in 1990.

The Atlanta City Council passed the EBO proposal unanimously in September. However, there has been opposition in the business community. John F. Chambless, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of America, says that there was no prior discrimination against women and minorities to warrant such a program. "The city should not carve out work for people who might not have been the lowest bidder," says Chambless.

But supporters of the plan point to disparities uncovered in the 1990 study of Atlanta's Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program. The study, written by BE Board of Economist member Andrew F. Brimmer and former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall, detailed the denial of bidding opportunities to minorities, discrimination in bonding and price by suppliers.

Mayor Jackson says the program doesn't rely on quotas, and implements the best available affirmative-action plan. "We're going to break the glass ceiling," says Mayor Jackson. "Everything we've done is for the benefit of women and minorities."
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Title Annotation:Atlanta
Author:Ramsey, Vikki L.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:368
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