Here is an idea that will work.

Based upon my experience and involvement with Black businesses and the Black community, I recommend that city leaders and others making decisions about the new retractable dome deal consider using Black businesses as an economic engine and as a capable creator/stimulator of jobs in the Vine City area of Atlanta.

My recommendation is built around two economically sound points, according to renowned economist Dr. Danny Boston, president of Euquant and a Ga. Tech professor.

1) Approximately 2/3 of the employees of a Black small business will reflect the ownership of the business. In other words, most of the employees of a Black business will be Black.

2) Also, 44 percent of Black businesses are located in high-risk areas.

Couple those facts with the knowledge that Black small businesses are more likely to employ the “unemployable” and under-employed.

The upshot is that the utilization of Black businesses and locally-developed non-profits as primary contractors, concessionaires, designers, service providers, or support organizations, will result in the almost automatic employment of persons from Vine City and other inner-city communities, while satisfying business development goals.

My proposition is that the project utilize a “Return on Investment” approach instead of one based upon entitlement or affirmative action. With the ROI approach, the contracting opportunities associated with the Dome would be considered “Contracting Investments” with an expected “Economic Return.” The Value Proposition of an economic return will be met through the natural creation of jobs, local taxes and turning over the dollar in the community by companies most likely to hire the residents and keep them employed.

The probability of the Black businesses hiring residents from the Vine City community when developing their labor force is potentially strong. The ability to meet Equal Business Opportunity challenges is also simply met. Further, this approach can be easily monitored and measured for compliance.

This approach addresses two problems at the same time and shares the responsibility for solutions with those most affected. It also provides a mechanism to turn the dollar over in the community, creating an economic stimulus supportive of larger community development.

With support, this approach could bring even greater benefits to Vine City and the City of Atlanta, while supporting the Dome’s requirements for quality contractors and residential job development. The Black businesses could be vetted to meet requirements with the expectation that their utilization will bring about an economic return to Vine City greater than outside of Atlanta contractors, etc.

This is simple and will work. Additionally, it removes the stench of entitlement or affirmative action from the discussions, replacing it with the mutual outcome benefit of an economic return on the contracting investment in Black business.

I am sharing this approach with as many persons, organizations and media as I can. And, I am available for further discussion or idea refinement.

Joseph R. Hudson, an entrepreneur, is an “unabashed Black business and inner-city commerce advocate” and is the former president of the Interracial Council for Business Opportunity, the Georgia Minority Supplier Diversity Council, and the Atlanta Business League.

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