Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprises

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Is Elizabeth City complying with its promises?

ELIZABETH CITY — On August 15, 1994, the City of Elizabeth City adopted a resolution (#R94083), which established ‘Verifiable Goals for Participation By Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in City Building And/Or Construction Contracts.’

The City does not certify Minority Disadvantaged or Women-Owned businesses. Any business that desires to participate is required to complete current certification, through at least one of the following agencies:

  • N.C. Administration department Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Certification

  • N.C. Department of transportation minority, Disadvantage

  • Small Business Administration 8(a) Certification

The City of Elizabeth City encourages the purchase of goods and services from certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises as well as soliciting their participation in City construction bids.

To review the city’s accomplishments with respect to obligations outlined in the decades-old resolution, we recently contacted City Manager Rich Olson.

The city strives for a verifiable goal of 10 percent for participation by the groups stipulated, with a list compiled and maintained of all persons seeking to do business with the city within the framework of this resolution.

Further, the list is supposed to be updated on a regular basis and open for inspection, and upon request, any person covered by the resolution shall have the opportunity to have his/her name added. There are many other provisions of this agreement, and we will not take the time to identify each. But clearly, there was an attempt by the City Council, in 1994, to meet its obligations under the resolution.

We submitted questions about how the various goals are being met and what, if any, procedures the city has adopted. What we have received so far is a statement from the City Manager, that all State and some of the Federal grants, which the city receives, specific goals associated with them – in most cases less than 5 percent.

If goals cannot be achieved, the city is required to provide documentation of its good-faith effort.

There are many contracting functions that the city engages in, from purchases of information technology equipment, to supplies of all types, as well as contractors to furnish labor and material for all sorts of city projects. Considering the fact that job development is so weak in this area, it would certainly seem that local government would seek out and proactively encourage participation by groups that are specified in this resolution.

We certainly believe Elizabeth City should make every effort to purchase goods and services from these groups and not just pay lip service to these efforts. We fully expect that the City Manager will provide details to verify that the municipality is in compliance with the requirements of the grants and that they are fulfilling the terms of the resolution that they adopted, so long ago.