We are proud to share the accomplishments of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) since our Annual Meeting in November.
Much progress has been made…yet there’s a lot more work to be done. Here are some of our activities:
1. Inclusionary Language for Contracts:
BECMA presented to Secretary of Housing & Economic Development Jay Ashe and Massachusetts State President Stanley C. Rosenberg inclusionary language that we recommend the administration and all the authorities adopt to ensure greater inclusion especially for black businesses. We are working with elected officials to implement this inclusionary language in all RFPs at both the municipal and state level.
- Elected Officials Listening Tour – December 20, 2016:
Governor Charlie Baker signed and legislators approved a comprehensive economic development bill into law, providing up to $1 billion in new investments. The Black and Latino business communities were allocated only $500,000 for infrastructure!
The City of Boston has discretionary spending of $380 million. Black and Latino businesses receive less than 2% of that spending! Boston does not currently have a minority business enterprise (MBE) policy or program.
BECMA requested that Black and Latino elected officials support an economic bill that has inclusionary language to insure Black and Latino businesses achieve equitable participation in every state and city contract.
- City Council Procurement – March 9, 2017:
Reggie Nunnally, Acting Executive Director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, along with Chuck Grigsby, former Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development , Mel King, former state representative, former Senator Dianne Wilkerson, Beverley Johnson, President of the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association, testified before the Jobs, Wages and Workforce Development Committee of the Boston City Council comprised of Frank Baker Chairperson, Ayanna Pressley, Vice Chairperson, and Michelle Wu, President of the Boston City Council at a hearing to discuss the procurement process in the City of Boston focusing on ways the City can better support Black and local businesses in that process.
- City Council – Community Preservation Act – March 23, 2017:
The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a program created by the state of Massachusetts to enhance livability and quality of life in the cities and towns that vote to adopt it. The residents of the city of Boston overwhelmingly approved the CPA legislature. It will create affordable housing, preserve open space and historic sites, and develops outdoor recreational opportunities through the creation of a local Community Preservation Fund. CPA funds are generated by a small surcharge on local property tax bills and then matched by a statewide trust fund to maximize their impact.
The average single-family homeowner will pay approximately $23 per year, or approximately $2 per month towards their local Community Preservation fund. In turn, the city will generate up to $20 - $30 million every year for CPA projects. The CPA’s goal is to enhance the quality of life in Boston’s neighborhoods and is a flexible, transparent program that will provide more funding for a diversity of historic preservation projects than we have ever seen.
The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts requested that a seat on the CPA board be allocated to a BECMA business representative to insure Blacks in Boston get their fair share.
- Winthrop Square Garage Project – April 26, 2017:
BECMA advocated and applaud the work elected officials, specifically Councilor Ayanna Pressley, is doing to ensure greater participation and monitoring for the Winthrop Square Garage project. We continue to push hard for more substantial inclusionary language and commitments for minority businesses. We are encouraged by Pressley’s insights and advocacy as stated in her recent comments including:
“Our City is in the midst of unprecedented growth and development. Unfortunately, however, too often this prosperity is not shared by all. With a persistent, widening, and downright shameful wealth gap, at the fore of my mind are procurement and contracting opportunities for Minority Business Enterprises (MBE). Our MBE's have been historically locked out of opportunities in this City for decades. This project has the highest goals (of any City project to date) for MBEs in construction and in permanent jobs. These goals are an encouraging first step in the right direction and I want to make sure that we meet them, and establish new baseline standards.
I know that which gets measured gets done, which is why I successfully negotiated quarterly reporting to the Boston Employment Commission, rather than the originally agreed to annual reporting. Receiving this data 4 times a year will allow us to adjust in real time, keeping all of us accountable to these MBE goals. And finally, we have a new measurable MBE model in the recent Massport/Omni Hotel. This Winthrop Square Garage Project is an opportunity to replicate that in private development.”
- BECMA met with work force development activists, including the Black Economic Justice Institute, Inc. (BEJII) led by Priscilla Flint-Banks, who were responsible for the Mayor signing the Boston Job Residency Policy for Construction Projects Executive Order, which requires projects meet the following guidelines:
- at least 51 percent of the total worker hours in each trade must go to Boston residents
- at least 41 percent of the hours must go to people of color, and
- at least 12 percent must go to women.
Together we identified that monitoring this landmark policy is critical for maximum impact. We are now putting pressure on our elected officials and the administration to work with the community in facilitating the monitoring process. We also seek to duplicate this process in other cities around Massachusetts.
- The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts supported BEJII in their inaugural sponsorship of the Ujamaa Mart to encourage the community to Buy Black.
- BECMA participated in the 2nd Annual Minority Business Expo at the Reggie Lewis Center.
4. Request for Information:
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) FY 16 Annual Report
In order to best analyze the particulars of the data in the FY 16 Supplier Diversity Office Annual Report BECMA needs to collect additional information including:
- The total and percentage of Black business dollars and number of contracts separate from the MBE totals.
- The dollar range of contracts to Black businesses – the lowest contract amount to the highest contract amount.
- Of the Black businesses in the count, how many are “new” businesses that received contracts from the state?
The BECMA mission is to drive business opportunities to start, expand and grow to scale Black businesses. We regard the Baker Administration as an active partner in this mission. We would be amenable to meet with the administration to discuss the details of the SDO report once we have had an opportunity to review and evaluate the data requested above. Ultimately we want a better return on our investment (tax) dollars
- Commonwealth Summit – January 26-27, 2017
BECMA participated in the annual Commonwealth Summit in Ashland, MA. Glynn Lloyd and Darryl Settles presented updates and efforts of BECMA to date and also laid out the BECMA platform and focus to 80+ business and civic leaders.
- Boston Business Journal – March 10, 2017
The Boston Business Journal published article featuring BECMA having a statewide focus advocating for Black business organizations and forming an economic policy group. The article references that BECMA was organized to advocate and promote the public policy initiatives and programs that will help start, expand and grow black businesses enterprises.
- Temple Israel, Racial Justice Initiative's Economic Justice Working Group – April 3, 2017
BECMA participated in a lively and informative discussion at Temple Israel on how they/we can address economic inequality through creative capital strategies and procurement.
- Boston Public Radio WGBH News – April 8, 2017
Jim Braude and Margery Eagan grilled BECMA board members Richard Taylor and Teri Williams on BECMA. The live broadcast provided an opportunity for BECMA to share information on the wealth gap, the reasons for economic inequality in Boston and what steps can be taken to address it, including more inclusive procurement policies and public/private partnerships.
6. Panel Discussions:
- Bethlehem Healing Church – February 26, 2017
- Boston Medical Center Health Net Employees – March 16, 2017
- Boston Business Journal: Race, Business and Diversity – March 29, 2017
Through meetings, discussions and advocacy with elected officials, community development corporations (CDCs) and organizations, BECMA has increased our shared understanding of the level of income inequality in Massachusetts and the need for a Black economic agenda. There has been progress made on both the state and local levels. Here are some examples:
- In February 2017, Governor Charlie Baker launched the Black Advisory Commission, signing an executive order and swearing-in several members of the commission who will advise on issues relating to the economic prosperity and well-being of the black community living in Massachusetts.
- In November 2016, the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) announced the launch of Hack.Diversity, a public-private partnership designed to tackle the under representation of Black and Latino employees in Boston’s innovation economy.
- The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has hired a more diverse staff, including a Director of Small and Diverse Business Engagement, to increase the diversity of businesses that participate in Chamber activities, inform the business community of important issues and help shape public policies that sustain Greater Boston’s competitiveness.
- The Massachusetts CDC (MACDC) held its annual conference in December 2016 with an agenda of “Working toward Racial and Economic Equity”. During this conference they discussed police and community partnerships, collaborating to achieve higher rates of MBE/WBE engagement in CDC construction projects, criminal justice reform and race.
These are just examples of the many ways in which public and private organizations are beginning to focus more on economic inequality and the need for a more inclusive economy.
We do not believe these initiatives would have occurred or would have been as robust without BECMA, along with the NAACP, Urban League, Bay State Banner and other organizations shining a light on the significant disparity of wealth in Massachusetts and the reality that race matters.
However, all that glitters is not gold. There is more work needed before these initiatives make a tangible difference in the state of Black Massachusetts. BECMA continues to fight for the adoption of more inclusive language in both public and private procurement policies: less talk and more action!
With your membership and sponsorship, we will continue to advocate for the economic well-being of Black people, businesses and organizations that serve the Black community. Our work is just beginning.
Black Owned Business Leaders Event
On May 23, 2017, we will be holding a reception at the Bruce Bolling building from 6:00-8:00 PM to celebrate 100 Black owned business leaders in Greater Boston and support the Museum of African American History (MAAH). Save-the-date and stay tuned for more information.