Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
We did not start the National Black Chamber of Commerce to be a social organization full of entertainment conferences and political correctness. Ours was to disrupt the contentment/status quo and demand equal opportunity and commitment as it relates to business participation. There was great opposition from the start. We expected this and knew that, as Frederick Douglass clearly explained: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will…Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get.”
He said that in the 1860s just before he co-founded the Republican party. Every bit of it applies today. Thus, as we go into our 26th year of advocacy, our resolve remains the same. We plan to provide more of a provocative style of leadership. We will be firm and will not settle for anything less than progress and improvement. Besides chapter development and an upgrading of our management structure we must improve the status of our business owners and help them take their companies to new heights.
With that in mind we will implement the following plan. We will keep you informed as we move along and reach new milestones. Please note the following:
- Mission: To exponentially increase the amount of Black business procurement at the federal government level which will lead to greater empowerment, demand for Capital Access, a sharp rise in employment opportunities, aka JOBS! In doing so, we prepare our constituents to earn a greater market share in the global marketplace and improved communities from an economic perspective. “What is the status of Black business procurement?” should be the number one topic of discussion amongst our leaders and bureaucrats throughout all levels of our national structure. Our chapters will receive technical assistance in preparing for this initiative.
- Quarterly Reviews on Each Government Agency: Beginning at the end of the next fiscal quarter, September 30, 2018, the NBCC will review the status of Black procurement with each federal agency. We will rank them and submit our findings to each top official of each agency and to the Chief of Staff of the White House. These quarterly reviews will continue through Fiscal Year 2020. They will be available to the public. The intent is to encourage procurement officers and their managers to focus on the need to improve the amount of volume they procure with certified Black firms, including those certified as 8a firms. The current status is disappointing so we must improve as soon as possible.
- SBA Lending to Black Firms: Consistent with the above we shall obtain the status of SBA lending to Black owned firms on a quarterly basis. We will develop a communication flow to the applicable banks encouraging them to become aggressive in this area. We will also review the CRA ratings (Community Reinvestment Act) of the major banks in the nation. Our chapters will do personal reviews with their applicable banks.
- Exploitation of Model Programs: We will identify locally based model programs that deal with job training and placement. Where possible we will partner with them and assist them in growing their markets and increasing their success levels. Two of these programs were identified during our recent annual conference.
- Monitor our Utility Companies: The General Services Administration has an excellent program of reviewing the status of Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) procurement with local utility companies. The companies are required to submit bi-annual plans for doing business with the DBEs within their marketplace. The plan’s results are reported and then updated every two years. We will begin reporting on this process and publicize the results. Our local chapters will be charged in dealing face-to-face with their applicable utility firms.
- Review State Minority Business Programs: We will review the MBE programs for most states within our nation. They will be assigned rankings and reviews will be updated on an annual basis. This should provide technical support for our local chapters as they provide advocacy for their members. The first review will be due by the end of this calendar year.
The above should keep our “plate full.” We are going to make changes – GOOD CHANGES! God is great!
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: [email protected] .