Thursday, May 30, 2024

I Heard It Through The Grapevine: California’s Black Businesses Left Behind?

April 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News, Weekly Columns

( California – I heard through the grapevine that California’s Black businesses are being left out of significant economic opportunities, not only as the state attempts to deal with a shrinking budget, but also as it decides how to spend major stimulus funding provided by the federal government.
Marvin Gaye put the words to music in 1968: I bet you’re wondering how I knew, about you’re plans to make me blue, with some other guy that you knew before, between the two of us guys you know I love you more. It took me by surprise I must say, when I found out yesterday. Don’t you know I heard it through the grapevine?

I have been writing for several weeks now that we need to get ready for the stimulus money because when the federal government releases it, if we don’t have a strong lobbying effort we will be left out. I found out yesterday that Sacramento has been requesting written ideas and plans from the Chamber of Commerce for possible projects to fund out of $8 billion dollars of discretionary funds. This is money that comes to the state that does not have to be spent on infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and schools. Now this might seem appropriate to you but this outreach did not include the California African American Chamber of Commerce and its 5000 members that are not a part of the other chamber. My question is why not? Were we left out because of race? Were we left out because we have no plans or ideas? I heard from Aubry Stone, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce for the state of California and he has hundreds of ideas and so do I. Or was it simply an oversight? Marvin went on to say in his song, people say believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear. I can’t help being confused if it’s true please tell me dear? Do plan to let me go for the other guy you loved before, don’t you know I heard it through the grapevine.

I recently talked with Aubry Stone and he said what I heard is true.

Taking a page from Brother Marvin I believe half of what I heard and called Sacramento for the other half. I was told that the state is divided into regions for outreach and each region was contacted. I would think that the folks in Sacramento would also make sure that a racially and ethnically “diverse” constitutiency was also engaged in the process.

We are included in the number of citizens our state has to get the $50 billion dollars in stimulus funding. We are included in the number of home foreclosures to get the stimulus funding. We are included in the unemployment rate to get the stimulus funding. We are included in the number of people who lost health insurance to get the stimulus funding. We are included in the number of students needing better schools to get the stimulus funding. We are included in the number of people that will ride on our roads and bridges to get the stimulus funding. Yet the state is excluding us from receiving any of the dollars to participate in the rebuilding of California.

I’m also concerned about how California’s diverse businesses – Black, Latino, Asian, Native American – will be notified about procurement opportunities with the state. Will you use Black owned media to have our public learn of public notice bids? Or will you give out contracts to people without the public’s knowledge like the Bush Administration did with Halliburton? I heard that through the grapevine as well.

On another matter but related to public notices and the spending of funds, Assembly member Bill Berryhill introduced a bill AB 449 that would eliminate the state spending any money for advertising public notices or legals. Now the Black and Hispanic media outlets are not included in much of the business of the state and these kinds of behaviors will make sure we are not included at all.

It is my hope that the state will include all citizens and industries in rebuilding California. It will be important for the citizens to be kept informed with the media they believe in and trust. If you need help or ideas in developing a plan contact us. Now that will alleviate hearing anything on the grapevine.

Written By Hardy L. Brown

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