Erie County Legislature Chairperson Betty Jean Grant (D-Buffalo) was pleased with the strong turnout and detailed input during the first meeting of the County Legislature’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Committee February 28.
Chairperson Grant, who is chairing the MWBE Committee, pointed out that seven county department representatives, officials from other government and not-for-profit groups, as well as community members, were represented at the meeting.
“This was historic, the County Legislature’s first official Minority Women Business Enterprise Committee meeting, after years of being a task force, and I am gratified to see the strong interest and attention to this crucial issue,” Chairperson Grant said. “To see more than 30 members of our community display a concern and interest proves the need for this committee. The participation of the Buffalo Urban League, the Black Chamber of Commerce, the Outsource Center, Everywomen Opportunity Center and other groups will enable the committee to command the best and largest assembly of MWBE leaders and advocates.”
Under her questioning, several concerns were raised.
“The Erie County Office of Equal Employment Opportunity does not have sufficient staff to properly monitor and enforce compliance pursuant to several Local Laws,” Chairperson Grant said. “Large public works projects have tended to fail due in part to the absence of independent monitors, and certifications of Minority and Women businesses lack a ‘one-stop-shop’ process and are often duplicative and wasteful. In addition, professional services contracts have not been required to adhere to the MWBE laws.”
“Despite the Collins Administration nearly dismantling the EEO/MBE programs, clearly, Erie County is now committed to utilizing its vast spending power fairly, equitably and with equal opportunity to all citizens of Erie County,” Chairperson Grant concluded. “The committee will reach out to the Small Business Administration and the Empire State Development Corporation in hopes that they will join our committee.”
Chairperson Grant is joined on the committee by Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli (D-Buffalo, Tonawanda) as vice chair, along with Legislator Timothy R. Hogues (D-Buffalo), Minority Leader John J. Mills and Legislator Lynne M. Dixon.
The next Minority Women Business Enterprise Committee meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in the County Legislature Chambers on the Fourth Floor of Old County Hall, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo. Among the speakers will be Janique Curry of the Erie County Medical Center, Frank Sorrentino of the Small Business Administration and Delores McCarley of Planning Associates.