The Democratic National Convention Committee has been vocal in its desire to patronize local minority businesses with contracts and projects for President Obama’s big general election kick-off in Charlotte, NC.
A coalition of minority businesses formed “to ensure equal opportunity for minorities in regards to financial contract opportunities with the 2012 DNC Convention” is however, not thrilled with the strategy for minority inclusion convention planners have pulled together.
“We do not hesitate to say that we had sought and hoped for higher goals than those adopted by the DNC,” chairman of the Carolina Regional Minority Partnership Coalition, civil rights attorney James Ferguson said at a Wednesday press conference, WSOC TV reported.
The DNC had set a goal of spending at least one third of contract funds with minority, women, LGBT, veteran, and disability-owned businesses for its contracts and projects.
“I am proud of the major steps we are taking to further strengthen our commitment to diversity at the DNC and 2012 convention,” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement when the goals were released just over a week ago. “Our party values economic inclusion and shared prosperity and I believe that this groundbreaking effort will increase opportunity for all.”
While Ferguson is concerned, convention CEO Steve Kerrigan explained that the one-third quota is a baseline goal.
“We look at our one-third goal as a floor, not a ceiling,” Kerrigan told The Charlotte Observer. “We don’t want to look at it as something when you reach it you stop. It has to be something that we are always aspirational about and try to exceed.”
At his Wednesday presser Ferguson added that his coalition’s emphasis is “on people of color, and other minorities that have been excluded,” but that he understands that “[t]he Democratic party looked at its entire constituency, and decided that they had to look beyond any one group of minorities. They had to look at the broad spectrum of the people that are included in the Democratic party.”
Ferguson was additionally disappointed in the fact that the Coalition was not included in the DNC’s diversity contracting roll-out.
WSOC further reports that Kerrigan stressed his partnership with Ferguson and the Coalition.
The Coalition has appointed a liason to the DNC and is expecting progress updates from the committee.
“We’re going to be monitoring very closely what’s happening so we don’t get to the end of this process and find out we’ve fallen short,” Ferguson said, according to WSOC. “Where there are weaknesses — and there will be some — we can pitch in.”