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Survey: Minority business owners out of the loop on DNC work

By Celeste Smith
cesmith@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Most of the minority entrepreneurs polled by an advocacy group said Democratic National Convention organizers controlled who would land work and who didn’t, despite a formal bidding process.

In an email poll sent to more than 400 people, 52 percent of respondents “felt that the DNC bid/contract process was rigged,” according to the survey from the Carolina Regional Minority Partnership Coalition.

“The DNC already knew who was going to get contracts,” according to one respondent quoted in the results. “They were just going through the motions with the public and CRMPC.”

Another respondent said: “We’ll never really know who all were awarded contracts.”

Convention organizers didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The survey pool included the 100 registered members of the coalition. Poll results didn’t specify the exact number of respondents. Results were sent to convention officials.

A key goal of the coalition, formed last year, was to push for economic inclusion of minorities in convention work.

In February, the coalition questioned convention planners’ success on that front in a letter urging significant minority involvement.

The following month, convention planners announced an unprecedented diversity goal for convention spending: to spend at least one-third of contract dollars with businesses owned by a diverse range of groups. Planners defined diversity as minorities, women, veterans, gays, and people with disabilities.

But coalition members still wanted more details, including winners of major contracts and those getting more informal work that didn’t warrant announcements.

Convention planners responded that they were on track with meeting diversity hiring goals.

In other results:

• 63 percent of coalition members “did not feel President Obama was personally aware of the challenges and difficulty African-Americans were experiencing” with the local host committee.

• Of the 100 registered members in the coalition, 7 percent received contracts from the host committee; 11 percent saw some economic benefit directly or indirectly from the convention.

• 67 percent felt white women “fared the best” with acquiring convention contracts.

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