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NAACP forum focuses on job opportunities
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Participants, moderators and officers pose for a photo after the NAACP's State of the Community forum last week in Midway. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Local job opportunities were a hot topic during the NAACP’s State of the Community forum last week when audience members questioned minority representation.
Anna Chafin with the Liberty County Development Authority explained policies in the Minority/Women Business Enterprise, formed late last year, mandating businesses to employ a certain number of minority and women.
“Historically, blacks and women have not had enough boom at the table,” state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, said.
But it is not because of the industry’s lack of effort, according to county commission Chairman John McIver.
“We can market the program but if … they’re not qualified to be bonded, to take on a large project, whether they’re local or not local. So we’re spinning our wheels to try to get the participation going,” McIver said, using the justice center as an example. “We got it in there but it’s not as many local[s] as we would like to see.”
Businesses can get guidance about the bonding process through M/WBE.
“There seems to be a divide between the citizens in the county and the development in the county,” said Meredith Devendorf, who moderated the forum with local NAACP President Liston Singletary III.
“I’m kind of curious where the communication gap is and how can you overcome it.”
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said.
He was explaining the city has tried to keep small businesses in the loop.
“The issue is when the contractor gets out there, they cannot come up with the business to fill those jobs,” Thomas said. “That’s kind of frustrating.”
M/WBE policies require a business to prove it at least tried to include minorities and women in projects.
Thomas said the city has encouraged small businesses to collaborate to get the big contracts.
And Hinesville has offered forums, but with little participation.
He said in order to be effective “those people need to come to the table.”
“I guess it’s a two-edged sword,” Thomas said. “We can’t quit at it.”
When McIver reported “overall, the state of the economy is good,” in the county, a resident asked how he could say so with various domestic problems in the community.
“When I say the state of the county, that’s the point of the county to provide service…that we’re not having to go out to the banks and borrow money,” McIver said.
Mentioning plans to enhancing transportation by paving roads and improve recreation at an east end annex, McIver said “we’re adding what’s absolutely necessary.”
But holding to only the bare necessities was overlooked this year in the state General Assembly, according to Williams.
“In a year when we don’t have anything, we cut $240 million capital gain tax.That helped about three percent of people in Georgia,” Williams said of the levy on investment profits. “But we continue to do things that have proven that don’t work.”
Big business seems to get whatever they want, according to Williams.
For a possible $1 billion, he thinks the one cent transportation tax should have passed.
But the two houses failed to agree on whether TSPLOST should be in the counties’ hands or the regions.
“I’m very afraid that if we go to a regional system it doesn’t become fair,” Williams said. “So the haves will do much better and the have-nots will remain stagnant and do much worse.”
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