City's Multicultural Chamber funds eyed by two agencies

City's Multicultural Chamber funds eyed by two agencies

November 30th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

Urban League of Greater Chattanooga

Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson

WHAT'S NEXT

The Urban League and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce are expected to give presentations 3 p.m. Tuesday during a City Council Budget and Finance Committee hearing.

Two agencies are now vying for $75,000 allocated to help promote minority business in Chattanooga, funds once designated for the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce.

The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga sent a letter last week to Mayor Ron Littlefield asking for the money to help with a minority business entrepreneurship center. The Chamber Area of Commerce is expected to ask for the money as well for its own minority business program.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said during a hastily-called business and finance meeting Tuesday that she wants to see how the money will be spent by either party.

"I want to see a program and a budget," she said.

Warren Logan, president and CEO of the Urban League, said Tuesday the $75,000 would not be the sole source of funding for the entrepreneurship center. The Urban League and other partners would also chip in funding, he said.

He said even if it does not receive the money, the program will go forward.

"It would be a little bit of a strain and take a little more time to put the ingredients together," he said. "The city will just be a great value to add."

J.Ed Marston, spokesman for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday the Chamber has been in talks with the city. He said the Chamber is just waiting for the council's decision to go forward.

"We're anxious to get started," he said.

Funding for the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce stopped this year after a Chattanooga Times Free Press investigation showed discrepancies in reporting to the city and county.

The Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce now faces investigations from the FBI and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development concerning how it spent federal funds and loans.

The county allocated $75,000 to the Chamber two weeks ago for minority business development.

Some council members balked Tuesday on whether they wanted to spend the $75,000 now or wait until next fiscal year.

But Councilman Andraé McGary said the money had already been allocated and that was why the Urban League "stepped forward." He also said there could be an alternative to handing out the $75,000 to just one group.

"In my mind, we don't have to allocate it to one organization," he said.

The Urban League and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce are expected to give presentations 3 p.m. Tuesday during a City Council Budget and Finance Committee hearing.