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St. Paul aims to lead in workforce racial equity

Concerns over ‘unrealistic’ hiring goals have proven unfounded
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Nearly $105 million in St. Paul City contracts was awarded in 2013 to businesses owned by people of color, women-owned, and small businesses, according to Saint Paul’s Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) annual report. That was about 41 percent of the “total business opportunity” of more than $255 million. Approximately 18.6 percent of this “total business opportunity,” or $47.5 million of the contracts awarded last year, went to small businesses; $38.5 million (15 percent of total) went to women-owned businesses; and $18.8 million (7 percent of total) went to businesses owned by people of color. Saint Paul’s Vendor Outreach Program (VOP) “requires the city to establish goals for contracting with” minority-owned (MBE), women-owned (WBE) and small business enterprises (SBE) on city construction projects, Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority projects, and contracts for professional services,” stated the 2013 HREEO annual report. Continue Reading →

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Black Minnesotans lobby at the State Capitol

Can the new ‘Black agenda’ move the community forward? 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


There was nothing new revealed last week during the Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Lobby Day at the State Capitol presenting their Black agenda to this year’s Minnesota Legislature. Billed as “Black Minnesotans Helping Move Minnesota Forward,” around 50 people listened on March 19 at the Capitol Rotunda to over 20 scheduled speakers before many of them visited legislators’ offices. “The last two years there was a collective group that sat on this African American lobby day, and this place was filled,” noted Rev. Jerry McAfee, who added that the COBM “didn’t reach out to anybody else. If this is about Black Minnesotans, why are you leaving Black folk out?”

Although McAfee didn’t blame the council’s new executive director, Edward McDonald, for the seemingly solo effort in planning last week’s event, the longtime pastor nonetheless added, “Some of the people around him on the council knew about it, and they should’ve said, ‘We will be stronger if we put everybody in together.’”

McDonald was hired and assumed the COBM executive duties last October. “Whether we like them [organizations that represent Blacks] or don’t like them, every African American group should have been a part of this, and there should have been meetings prior to this so that there could [be] one agenda. Continue Reading →

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