Filed Under:  Local, News

New Orleans enacts new DBE ordinance

24th June 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Nayita Wilson
Contributing Writer

The New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that defines and establishes a foundation for policy setting and compliance for the City of New Orleans’ Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program last Thursday, June 20. The ordinance also requires DBE participation in 35% of city contracts.

Following the council’s decision, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed the ordinance into law.

“If we want true prosperity for New Orleans, it’s essential that all of our businesses have opportunities to benefit from public and private investments in our city,” Landrieu said.

City leaders and many minority business owners and non-minority business owners alike agree that the new DBE ordinance in effect will create equitable opportunities for minority contractors and has the capacity to usher wealth into struggling communities.

Those sentiments were expressed before the council prior to the vote.

Barbara Major with The Collaborative, a business advocacy group that has worked for years to have the challenges of DBE businesses addressed, said “This particular ordinance also sets up precedence in terms of holding prime contractors accountable. Nobody’s ever talked about how valuing of DBEs have been happening historically because primes haven’t done what they were supposed to do. The other thing is this ordinance moves beyond just jobs, but moves to a place of starting to really create wealth in marginalized communities, which has not happened since (hurricane) Katrina.”

Business owner and author Debra Washington Gould said equity is a critical factor in rebuilding the city.

“Equity builds peace. It builds strong communities, and it builds and creates access with no liabilities. We’re currently embarked on a major building boom in this city, and there are not many people that look like me when I pass to see the amount of construction work going on in this city. So I applaud each of you,” Gould told the council as she thanked ordinance supporters and the city’s Office of Supplier Diversity for their efforts.

The enacted law is a “living document” that may be amended in the days ahead and is the result of input from community members and The Collaborative, which handled 80 to 90% of the legwork, according to District D City Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

Hedge-Morrell said, “I am extremely happy the administration has joined us in supporting this Disadvantaged Business Enterprise initiative. This is about leveling the playing field and giving our local, minority-owned businesses access to opportunities to grow and flourish. We’ve seen amazing success stories under the current program, but this ordinance will strengthen and reinforce our commitment to DBE goals. This is something we have been diligently working towards for several years, and I’m excited about this next step.”

This article originally published in the June 24, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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