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NBC-LEO workshops explore community, social concerns.

The National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBCLEO) sponsored three workshops during NLC's Congressional City Conference, March 6-9, 1993. These workshops were designed to take a closer look at what has been done and what cities can do to begin addressing minority business development, community reinvestment, and the socio-economic concerns that are negatively impacting AfricanAmerican males.

Surrounding the issues of community reinvestment and the economic survival of minority contractors is the larger concern of what various education, social, and economic policies have done to all but incapacitate African-American men in general and young black males in particular.

Minority Business Development

The Minority Business Development workshop discussed programs that are designed to stimulate the growth of businesses owned by racial and certain ethnic minorities and how the design of these efforts were initially based on race neutral policies.

As an outgrowth of the Richmond v. Croson case, many cities and towns are grappling with the issues of redefining setasides for minority contractors.

Since the Croson decision, which ruled that the strict scrutiny test applies to all racial classifications created by state and local governments, cities and towns have been anxiously reconsidering their minority setaside programs.

Adele Jackson, president of A.D. Jackson & Associates conducts disparity studies for approximately 12 government entities nationally.. Jackson described the process that her company uses to conduct these studies and alternative ways to approach the problem, short of doing a full blown study, which can range from $200,000 for a local initiative to $800,000 for a statewide inquiry."

Adrian Gardner, director of Prince George's County's Minority Business Commission discussed how cities and towns should make the identification of minority contractors an active and aggressive part of their overall procurement program. He added that procurement managers should be evaluated based on the goals they set toward this end.

Dennis Jackson, council member, Delaware, Ohio and vice president of Evensen Dodge, an independent financial consulting firm for state and local governments served as the moderator for this panel. Besides fielding questions from the audience, he also answered and provided advice to the audience on ways that they can continue to legally address the issues related to minority set-aside programs.

Community Reinvestment Act

Since Congress revised the Community Reinvestment Act, local officials are more empowered than ever to ensure that federally insured banking institutions reinvest in the community's that they serve.

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) workshop, was filled to capacity. Interest in this area has rapidly increased over the past three years, thanks to changes in the CRA that took effect in July, 1990. As a result local officials were anxious to here how they can leverage funds and energize their banks reinvestment strategies.

The presenters discussed community reinvestment strategies from the standpoint of empowering communities, legislative, local business development, and public pollcies. Several key points were made. They included:

* most bank community reinvestment strategies centered around home mortgages, and very little effort was made toward economic reinvestment in minority owned businesses;

* the-subtle ways in which discrimination in the granting of capital loans--for example minority businesses are told that they need $500,000 in the bank before they can be loaned an equal amount.

How banks will relocate four to five miles away from the community that they serve and than grant loans to practically everybody except the minorities who are the majority of the people placing their .money in their bank.

The presenters gave many other examples and as many ways to counteract these difficulties. The presenters were: John Taylor, executive director, National Community Reinvestment Coalition; Deepak Bhargava, legislative director, ACORN; Richard Ferlauto, public policy program manager and Gizette Canegata, legislative assistant, Center for Policy Alternatives; and Joy Taylor, marketing director, D.C. Chamber of Commerce. This workshop was moderated by Serita Kelsey.

African American Males

The final workshop sponsored by NBC/LEO was titled African-American Males: A New Agenda for the Future. Once again, a capacity crowd. This workshop clearly demonstrated the need for more open forums on this topic. Moderated by Donald Tucker, council member from Newark, N.J., the panelist range of discussion included, the education of young black boys, rights of passage for young African-American males and females, preliminary findings from a national study being conducted on African-American males, and employment training initiatives from an ex- offender who is working with other exoffenders attempting to turn their lives around.

John Wilson, research associate and project manager, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (Washington, D.C.) discussed the substantial decline in the ability of AfricanAmerican men to maintain employment, consequently, decreasing the ability of AfricanAmerican to assume their expected roles as breadwinners for their families.

Spencer Holland, director, Center for Educating AfricanAmerican Males, Morgan State University (Baltimore, Md.), spoke about an effort he developed called Project 2000. This project recruits African-American male primarily and other male volunteer role models to serve as tutors in the early school experience of urban minority males.

L'Tanya Buck, president, Communications development Services, and director of OSEI (a West African word meaning maker of the great) discussed her rights of passages program for youth, in which she teaches adolescents what it means to be a man or a woman.

Nat Tolbert, president, Tolbert & Associates spoke about his continuing initiatives for dealing with inner-city youth in employment training programs; the futileness of training young people for jobs that only pay minimum wage; and his life from being a Vietnam veteran to being an ex-offender, working to keep young people out of prison and assisting those who have been to remain out.
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Title Annotation:National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials
Author:Kelsey, Serita R.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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