Georgia’s Leading Organization For Minority Business Development|GUEST COMMENTARY

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    BY Stacey Key
    The Georgia Legislature took decisive action in 2010 on one of our most pressing issues – transportation infrastructure – by passing HB 277, the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (TIA). The condition and the capacity of the state’s roads, highways and bridges have long been at the center of any discussion about the future of our great state. The Atlanta metropolitan area has been plagued by ever-increasing volumes of traffic. Companies that are considering the region for new construction, expansion or relocation must weigh traffic considerations and commute times alongside real estate prices and tax incentives in making any economic development decision. Our organization – the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC) – is Georgia’s leading advocate for supplier diversity and small business development. While we agree that TIA will put thousands of Georgians to work and be good for our economy, our concern is making sure the implementation of TIA does not overlook the small business community or the thousands of minority-owned firms in Georgia.

    On July 31st of this year, the voters will have an opportunity to approve a whole new approach to transportation infrastructure improvements in Georgia, when they vote on a 1 percent sales tax that will fund transportation projects for the next 10 years. TIA is a win for Georgia, as it addresses the concerns of citizens, economic development professionals, municipal officials and the business community. It promises a much-needed infusion of jobs and increased contracting with Georgia companies. Since small business is the engine that drives the American economy, we must not overlook the vital role they play in any economic growth strategy. As small business goes, so goes America – and Georgia!

    While there are no obvious negatives when it comes to TIA, there is one rather glaring omission. The bill does not include any provision for insuring the involvement of small business in TIA projects. The small business community is the single most important segment of any job creation initiative, and the statistics overwhelmingly bear that out. It is critical that our implementation plan for TIA takes small business into account. The hundreds of major corporations who are members of the GMSDC understand this better than most, as they have all implemented supplier diversity practices that insure the

    the participation of small businesses and firms owned by minorities and women in everything they do. They know that a healthy relationship with small business has a positive impact on the bottom line, and we encourage our leaders and those making TIA contracting decisions to make provisions for this all-important business segment.

    GMSDC works to create jobs and stimulate Georgia’s economy by helping emerging firms to improve their competitiveness and expand their capacity to provide value-added goods and services. The State of Georgia enjoys a stellar reputation as a haven for small business and one of the best places in America for entrepreneurs and minority firms to do business. That reputation has been built on a

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