League and Chamber offer proposals to aid minorities

League and Chamber offer proposals to aid minorities

December 4th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News


The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga plan to offer two minority business programs Tuesday to the City Council. The proposals are:

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce (Minority-Business Program)

• Create a board of directors for the program.

• Hold classes to help companies achieve certification as minority-owned businesses, as well as classes in mentoring and leadership development.

• Serve as a repository to transmit requests for proposals to minority-owned businesses.

• Launch a new major event to promote successful minority-owned businesses.

Urban League of Greater Chattanooga (Entrepreneurship Center)

• Hold classes on understanding business and how to get access to startup capital.

• Work with other groups to find startup capital for minority-owned busineses.

• Offer mentoring and networking for minority businesses.

• Host joint public forums with the Chattanooga Chamber Area of Commerce to help with networking.

Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga

Two Chattanooga organizations vying for $75,000 in city money to promote minority-owned businesses are in the middle of drafting their proposals.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga will present their plans to the City Council on Tuesday night.

But one thing both entities are saying is they do not view themselves in competition.

"We certainly have no desire to compete with the Urban League," said J.Ed Marston, the Chamber's spokesman.

Warren Logan, president and CEO of the Urban League, said "from my vantage point" it is not a contest.

But both groups are trying to dip into the pot of $75,000, and both groups have different views on what the money would mean for their minority-owned business programs if neither receives the full amount or if it is split between the groups.

Logan said the Urban League's program would continue without the money, it may just be delayed. Marston said if the Chamber did not receive the bulk of the money its program would have to be restructured.

"We would have to scale back," he said.

The groups are competing for the money after the City Council and the Hamilton County Commission decided not to give their annual $75,000 donations to the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce. A Times Free Press investigation showed discrepancies with fund requests to the city and the county from the Multicultural Chamber.

A city audit and Times Free Press investigations led to inquiries by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the FBI. The Multicultural Chamber still is under investigation.

Three weeks ago, the county handed its $75,000 to the Chamber for the minority-owned business program.

A review of the proposals from the Chamber and the Urban League show several similarities but also some differences.

The Chamber proposal would use a marketing component for businesses while Logan said his proposal would help businesses find and use startup money. The Chamber's proposal makes no mention of that.

Both organizations say they would look at hiring two staff members to run their programs and the money would help with personnel costs and materials. Both groups said they also plan to put some of their own money into the program.

But there would be some challenges if the money is split, the organizations said.

The Urban League could use whatever money it was given, and if it was less than the full $75,000, "it would just pose a different type of challenge," Logan said.

Marston, though, said what the Chamber is offering is based upon the full $75,000 and a split wasn't considered.

"That wouldn't fit the model we proposed," he said.