Last week, investigative reporters at GBH News released a report -- “Baker Administration Inflates Its Claim Of Spending With Minority Businesses” -- that detailed how the Baker Administration has allegedly undeservedly taken credit for surpassing self-established diverse contract spending goals. While state officials dispute the findings of recent and past GBH reports, they highlight the experiences faced by our members: that despite all of the sweat equity, jobs created, and wealth contributed by Black-owned businesses to the broader economy, there has not been a similar commitment to reinvesting in them.
Immediately following publication of this story, we sent a letter to Governor Baker urgently requesting a meeting with him, key members of his Administration, and members of the State Legislature. Following a quick response from the governor's office, we secured that meeting. We have organized a special members' only conversation for later this week to finalize our demands.
While many state officials have shown little reluctance in saying that “Black Lives Matter,” this series of reports from GBH News and the policies spotlighted therein show that in the areas of Black wealth, Black economics, and Black business growth, the Administration and State Legislative leadership fall short in proving it.
The current pandemic makes it plain that beyond grants, loans, and lines of credit, the ultimate way to ensure the stability and growth of a business is through commerce. It is incumbent, therefore, upon the Baker Administration and the State Legislature to remove all barriers to contracting for Massachusetts-based Black-owned businesses and to create procurement pipelines that will ensure we have access to all business opportunities.
We know that had action been taken on recommendations we made in January 2020, Black firms, state agencies, and technical assistance providers would have been better prepared to deal with the current crisis. Our businesses are now facing extinction because of this failure to act in addition to harmful policies, historic inequities, and under-investment.
While the state may be able to bounce back from the negative economic impact the pandemic has had on its budget, Black communities cannot afford the continued loss of job creators and wealth producers. With a yawning racial wealth gap and unemployment for Black communities in double digits, Governor Baker, his Administration, and the State Legislature simply cannot allow any more of the over 1,200 Black firms that employ 14,000 Massachusetts residents and generate over $1 billion in revenue to fail. We will be sure to remind these officials that their oath of service to the Commonwealth includes our businesses and that we will not leave our meeting without specific, tangible commitments to ensure their success for generations.