County to study why minority-owned businesses aren’t getting contract bids

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County Commissioners want to find out why more minority contractor are not getting more contract bids within the county.

"I don't care whether it's a black or white business minority or otherwise. It's not fair for our local residents that are in business to not have the opportunity to do business where they live," said Commission Chair James Harvey.

Even though there's no proof of any problems, Harvey says the county isn't doing enough to help small minority run businesses succeed.

" If small and medium-size businesses fail, it sends a negative signal. It has a negative stain on the city by in large."

But some call what started all this a stain.

Harvey is one of several people who defended commissioner Henri Brooks when she lashed out at a Latino business owner during a meeting last month. She said he had too many Latino workers and not enough African-Americans.

"Don't compare our struggles. You wanted to come here! We didn't."

African-American leaders said Brooks chose the wrong words, but had the right point - that there are problems hiring enough minority-owned businesses.

So Thursday, commissioners decided the county will examine who it contracts business out to, and make sure there's a level playing field. Commissioner Harvey says the team they hire to do the study will have experience studying cities the size of Memphis.

"They know where all of the hidden agendas are. I would like to think they know."

And while silent for most of today's meeting, Brooks had another message for her critics, who question if she lives in her district.

"I would hope we could stop this high-tech lynching"

Pastor Keith Norman of the Memphis-Based NAACP hopes this study will actually lead to change in the county, unlike the studies done in the past.

Commissioners say that study should take about a year.


  • Jim

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) cares NOTHING about minorities unless the minority is BLACK. News Flash, Blacks are the majority in Shelby County. I’m all for awarding contracts to the minorities: Hispanics, Asians, Indians, etc.

  • Harden

    Henri Brooks was asked to resign from Methodist Lebonheur University Hospital. If she had not resigned, she would have been fired. Employees of Methodist who engage in violent acts on company property are subject to termination. She broke the rules and was punished She can play the race card but many might argue, that her loss of her job had nothing to do with the color of her skin.

  • B.j. Scott

    According to the U.S. Census (2010), Memphis is composed of a 63.3% African-American population. Wouldn’t that make them the majority and not a minority? As for Henri Brooks, if she didn’t “want to come here,” why hasn’t she returned to wherever it is she came from?

  • John G

    What gets me is Henri thinks she is a minority when the majority in Memphis is black and the Hispanics,Vietnamese,
    Chinese and others are the true minorities here.Another is why Henri seems to think there is some kind of”High Tech
    Lynching” going on, the media was right to report on these stories they would have done the same if it would have been
    white person making these kind of statements.Thank God for the Media and our founding fathers who put that in the Constitution about freedom of the press.If Henri cant stand heat in the kitchen maybe she needs to shut you mouth,You are a Public Official

  • memphissux

    henri brooks played the old Clarence Thomas line about a “high tech lynching” , ps my wife is hispanic and is darker than henri brooks and has faced discrimination from blacks in her former work place, but she cant play the race card like mrs brooks can

  • Terrie

    “It has a negative stain on the city by in large.” The Negative Stain has come from within Mr. Harvey’s own race KNOWN for not caring about working, not doing a job hired for or not showing up for it all together! Not to mention complain about the job the entire time they are supposed to be working. So why would ANYONE want to hire someone they KNOW will NOT help the company?? He needs to preach to his own kind and stop pointing fingers.

  • Howard Stern

    To me, this study is a bunch of unnecessary BS – a waste of time and money. These idiots need to quit turning everything into a freakin’ racial issue. Hire the company that offers the highest quality work at the best price, regardless of what the color of their skin is. If it is a black company – they get the job. If it is a white company – they get the job. Which ever company best serves the needs of the citizens of Shelby County.

  • Arguenot

    To help clarify a few things, I found some information for the Council members who seem confused as to what constitutes a minority…strangely enough, it makes no mention of how your ancestors came to be in the US:

    Certification Overview
    Certification is a review process designed to ensure that a small business is actually owned, controlled, and operated by the applicants. Most certifications are granted for Minority or Women owned businesses, Small Disadvantaged Businesses, and Underutilized businesses. Certification agencies implement the processes for government and private sector entities and ensure that only firms that meet the eligibility criteria of the individual programs are properly certified.

    SBA’s Definition of a Small Business
    Minority Owned Businesses (MBE)

    A minority-owned business is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated and controlled by minority group members. “Minority group members” are United States citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American.

    Ownership by minority individuals means the business is at least 51% owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals. Further, the management and daily operations are controlled by those minority group members.

    For purposes of NMSDCs (National Minority Supplier Development Council) program, a minority group member is an individual who is a U.S. citizen with at least 1/4 or 25% minimum (documentation to support claim of 25% required from applicant) of the following: •Asian-Indian – A U.S. citizen whose origins are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
    •Asian-Pacific – A U.S. citizen whose origins are from Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas.
    •Black – A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
    •Hispanic – A U.S. citizen of true-born Hispanic heritage, from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of the following regions: Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin only. Brazilians shall be listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes.
    •Native American – A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part. Native Americans must be documented members of a North American tribe, band or otherwise organized group of native people who are indigenous to the continental United States and proof can be provided through a Native American Blood Degree Certificate (i.e., tribal registry letter, tribal roll register number).
    Certification is done at the local or regional level. The NMSDC and its affiliates do charge a non-refundable application fee. Certification must be renewed each year along with payment of annual fee. To find the certifying agency nearest to your location, click here. Certification application forms can be obtained from these agencies.

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