[Spotlight] Greensboro Business League
On June 21, the Greensboro Business League held a press conference on the first floor of Greensboro City Hall. The Greensboro Business League is a recently-formed organization co-chaired by Earl Jones and Gerry McCants, which Jones described as a coalition comprised of black business owners with the aim of eliminating race-based discrimination in contracting, financing and procurement in the city of Greensboro.
Jones is a former city council member, state representative and co-founder of the International Civil Rights Museum. McCants is president of McCants Communications Group, Inc. and a former advisor to the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, as well as a subcontractor with Griffin & Strong, PC, the Atlanta-based law and public policy consulting firm retained by the city to conduct the disparity study of its contracting process for minority businesses.
Jones and McCants were joined by the Rev. Cardes H. Brown, Jr., president of the Greensboro branch of the NAACP, and Rev. Clarence Bradley Hunt of the Greensboro Pulpit Forum, as well as over a dozen others whom Jones described as local business people who are members of the league. Jones, McCants, Brown, and Hunt spoke before an assemblage of approximately 40 onlookers, as well as several members of the press.
Jones said that he called the press conference to address issues that the Greensboro Business League had raised at the June 5 city council meeting. At that meeting, Jones stated that African-Americans “represent 42 percent of the city’s citizens and pay approximately 35 percent of the taxes, but we only get one percent back into our communities for contracting and professional services.”
Also at that “First Tuesday” council meeting, Jones and the GBL made three recommendations to the mayor and the city council. At the June 21 press conference, he, McCants, Brown, and Hunt repeated their recommendations that the city council:
Hire Griffin & Strong, P.C. to implement the recommendations of that firm’s 2018 disparity study of the City of Greensboro.
Appropriate $1.5 million in the 2018-19 budget to the City of Greensboro’s Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise Office.
Make the M/WBE Office independent from the city manager, with the M/WBE Director reporting directly to the city council and the mayor.
At the June 21 press conference, Jones particularly emphasized that last recommendation, stating that the disparity study revealed “several instances where white businesses and contractors did not comply with good faith efforts and did not comply with other requirements of the Greensboro M/WBE program, and the city manager actually overruled the staff in favor of those white businesses.”
When I questioned him on these comments after the press conference, Jones said he would send me a PDF of the disparity study. The next day, he emailed a 40-page document with the Griffin & Strong logo and the title GREENSBORO NORTH CAROLINA EXECUTIVE SUMMARY MARCH 20 2018. The section of the document that Jones referred appears to be the one under the subheading “2: GOOD FAITH EFFORTS” that begins at the bottom of page 19 and continues through page 20. It concludes with the statement that, “There have been several instances where the M/WBE Program has determined that good faith efforts were not met, but that determination was overruled by the City Manager.”