Antonio RayHarvey | CaliforniaBlackMedia
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi decides from Congressional Democratic Caucus whether there is enough support to vote on the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan federal infrastructure spending bill, owned by blacks in California and across the country. The company is watching carefully.
Called the “American Employment Plan” by the Biden administration, the bill will fund construction projects, airports, roads, bridges, education initiatives and more. As a component of Biden’s broader “buildback better plan,” the law includes spending to combat climate change and support the expansion of social services and safety net programs for low-income households. increase.
The infrastructure bill is expected to increase opportunities for SMEs, including minority-owned SMEs to procure contracts to implement various parts plans, and accelerate racial equality, minority operators said. Stated.
Some black business owners, as is often the case with large government spending programs, are concerned that they may be overlooked.
Opportunity to get it right
“This is an opportunity for black businesses to benefit from unprecedented taxpayer spending and help build all communities across the United States. But from the past, in this situation, black ownership and other We also know that including minority-owned businesses is not always automatic, “said Jean Hale, president of the Los Angeles Great African-American Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s never a priority to even let us know that these opportunities exist and how to grow and protect our business,” Hale added. “It has to change.”
Barbara Lee, D-CA 37, said the infrastructure plan reflected the agenda that helped the Democrats regain the White House.
“The needs of our community, especially blacks and browns, are too great to be put on hold,” Lee said in a statement released on September 22. The vision and promise of this country. ”
U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said federal financial investment is “historical in nature” and requires California Black companies to have access to the goods and services shown in the vision of the plan. Said there is.
“It ensures that black-owned businesses have the opportunity to miss for decades,” Graves told California Black Media in a one-on-one telephone interview. “We will ensure that black companies are seated at the table, as the president has required all institutions to make plans on how black companies will be included in all investment decisions.”
Traditional human infrastructure bill pending
The Senate passed an infrastructure bill on August 10, and a budget adjustment bill requiring an additional $ 3.5 trillion in spending is under discussion. Now the House of Representatives must approve the legislation and transfer it to Biden for his signature.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) is still setting the date for the bill’s floor vote as the battle continues between liberal and moderate Democrats on the package price tag. not.
“Let’s be clear. For months, progressives were open, honest, and transparent to the House leadership and administration about focusing on passing both bills.” Said Lee. “We all proudly support the entire President’s Buildback Better Package, so from the start of these negotiations, my colleagues and I have passed the bipartisan infrastructure framework along with the settlement package. Was advocated. ”
The Senate Infrastructure Bill includes amendments that allow the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to become a permanent fixture of the federal government.
This amendment will expand the capacity of institutions to open local offices and local business centers. According to Republican Senator Tim Scott and the office of Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who co-sponsored the bill, the outreach facility is the Historical Black University (HBCU) and other minority service agencies (MSI). Will be managed through. Of South Carolina.
Minority business struggle
According to Graves, minority operators have historically been systematically excluded from securing favorable federal contracts for infrastructure work such as the construction of bridges and highways.
According to the 2016 MBDA report, public contract data show that there is a disparity in contract activity between minority and non-minority companies.
Specifically, the report revealed that minority companies (MBEs) typically secure smaller numbers and amounts of contracts in proportion to the number of MBEs that can bid on the market and perform contract work. ..
Graves told CBM that the federal government would “deploy” the infrastructure to fund the old way of bidding on contracts.
“(MBDA) is a single federal agency dedicated to supporting the growth and long-term success of minority businesses,” Graves said. “(MBDA) is working with all federal agencies to ensure that minority companies are right there in deploying these dollars and making these investments.”
Under the guidance of Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Graves is tasked with managing increased employment opportunities, strengthening SMEs and establishing economic policies to train workers for high-demand jobs. increase.
The 19th Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Graves, is also an African-American and comes from a family of successful businessmen.
Four times as many great-grandparents as Graves, they succeeded in a horse and buggy taxi business in Washington, DC, once on the grounds of the Commerce Department’s headquarters. Their son became the owner of a well-respected hotel nearby and became one of the first black patent holders in the United States through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Challenges faced by California minority companies
In California, voters rejected the 2020 general election proposal 16. This is a ballot to revive affirmative action in California. More than 56% of the state’s 11 million voters have checked the bill for “no.”
What appears to be a barrier at the state and federal levels, Graves said, “the door is open to all of us.” The federal government is calling on states and local governments to develop plans to keep minority companies from discouraging participation in the plan.
“We see how they can effectively use these dollars in a comprehensive and impartial way to ensure that opportunities exist for all minority businesses (in California) that have the ability. I want to, “said Graves. “We don’t want them to be discouraged or turn their backs.”
The infrastructure plans listed by Graves will also eliminate lead pipes in drinking water systems, provide high-speed broadband, upgrade schools and federal buildings, and replace buses and rail vehicles.
“This is also the largest public investment in history and the most important investment to ensure that all Americans have access to reliable and affordable broadband,” he said.
Header Photo: US Capitol Complex (Source: Wikipedia)
Black Businesses Push for Access to Coming Billions in Infrastructure Dollars Source link Black Businesses Push for Access to Coming Billions in Infrastructure Dollars
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