Business leaders discuss Greensboro’s contract bidding process

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The city held its first focus group on Thursday to meet with representatives from with women and minority owned business to discuss how the city can work better with historically underutilized businesses.

Mark Oglesby used to own Worldwide Distribution, a construction subcontractor, that worked on projects like the new Guilford County Jail. He says running a small business is tough, but getting a City of Greensboro contract was even tougher.

"It was easy enough to start the process but ... I don't get paid on starting the process,  I get paid on jobs," said Oglesby.

Oglesby ended up closing his business, he says because of a few factors - a bad economy, being squeezed out by larger companies, and an unequal bidding process for local government contracts.

That's exactly what Gerry McCants wants to hear about at the focus groups as the chairperson collecting ideas to even the playing field.

"We need to do more work to make sure there's an equal share of work for minority businesses," said McCants.

A consultant studied how well the City of Greensboro works with women and minority owned business, and the results were terrible.

"It's not good for business. Small businesses play a major part in terms of economic development in terms of Greensboro and the region," said McCants.

The chair person hopes some of the ideas that come from this meeting end up changing the way the City of Greensboro does business.

The Community Relations Steering Committee for Minority and Women Business Enterprise is holding more meetings on Tuesday, September 18, 8-10 am and 6-8 pm and Thursday, September 20, 10 am to 12 noon. Each meeting will be held at the Simkins Indoor Sports Pavilion, Barber Park.

The committee will present ideas to the city and the city council could vote to change the way the city's bidding process works.

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