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LCDA starts minority/women initiative
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When they noticed a disparity in many contracted projects for women and minorities, members of the Liberty County Development Authority decided to take on a Minority/Women Business Enterprise initiative.
Industries eyeing the county for business in the future must have, or at least try to have, minorities composing 10 percent and women composing three percent of the staff.
The drafted M/WBE policies are intended to provide as many equal opportunities as possible for women and minorities to compete, according to DeLisa Espada, LCDA director of work force development.
"They (LCDA) just wanted to make sure that the minorities and women had an opportunity to participate and benefit from some of the growth that's going on in the community," Espada said.
And as far as construction goes, Espada said the mandate will not have a negative impact on businesses.
The initiative will provide resources for businesses, such as a list of minority and women businesses available.  
"What this particular policy guideline will do is basically guide those contractors through how they can secure minority and women businesses to participate in those projects," Espada said.
Interested businesses learn the details of the M/WBE requirements during pre-contractual meetings.
CH2M Hill, the lead engineer on a proposed sewage plant in Tradeport East, is one of the local businesses operating according to M/WBE requirements.
Wayne Murphy, CH2M Hill work force project manager, said the company has always tried to make sure minorities and women are represented in its work force.
"The country as a whole is becoming a global and diverse workforce so we thought it was important to do what it takes to foster minority and women businesses to achieve success in this global economy," Murphy said.
The M/WBE initiative currently is exclusive to LCDA projects, but there are hopes to expand to other county businesses.
Espada said common difficulties businesses face are getting bonded, certified and educated.
"Being a business owner is very difficult in any setting that you have, so there has to be some kind of regulation and guidelines to adhere to," she said.
Porcha Carew, marketing director for VIP Office Furniture and Supply, a women-owned business in Hinesville, said 33 years of business proves women have something to offer the corporate world.
"(VIP) started building a proven track record through taking the emphasis off the negative and pointing out all the reasons why we can do what we're doing," Carew said.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Espada said she thinks the public will be excited the LCDA’s initiative.
"The program that we have developed and are going to be presenting is a program that is fair," Espada said. "It's an inclusive program that is, I think, fair to everyone involved. It does not omit some and include others."
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