The construction of the Atlanta Falcons new state-of-the-art retractable stadium is causing dollars bills to flutter from the skies like confetti at a ticket-tape parade. And minority-owned contractors and vendors from Georgia and beyond want to catch fair share of the estimated $1.2 billion it will cost to construct the football palace.
The Falcons brass attempted to allay fears and pacify the anxious minority vendors and service providers, when they recently released an Equal Business Opportunity plan for the design and construction of the mammoth edifice adjacent to the old stadium in downtown Atlanta. The EBO outlines the plan for achieving a 31 percent participation goal for minority and women-owned businesses.
Organizations such as the Georgia Black Contractors Association, the Atlanta Business League, the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Company and others remain vigilant to ensure that the team exemplifies transparency throughout the bidding and building process and beyond.
“The old stadium cost $300 million. This particular project [with] 31 percent minority participation allows black contractors to get $300 million out of this deal, which is as much as the previous stadium cost,” said spokesman Steven Muhammad at the Georgia Black Contractors Association Expo recently.
The GBCA said it wants leaders to create a task force that would ensure there is minority participation in the bidding process and that the city’s pledge is more than just hollow political rhetoric designed to pacify black and women entrepreneurs. The task force, they believe, should include members of the black business community as well as community leaders and a representative from the city, said association president Margaret Muhammad.
“We are open to meetings to see if we can get some transparency and information about the participation process,” Muhammad said.
The city of Atlanta of course, has a rich — although relatively recent tradition — in supplier diversity that goes back to the days of the late legendary Mayor Maynard Jackson. Atlanta was in fact, among the first major municipalities to ardently advocate for strong equal opportunity goals more than 40 years ago.
Representatives from the Atlanta Falcons and the City of Atlanta’s Office of Contract Compliance will present on the following items:
▪ Review of the commitment to small business participation
▪ Progress on meeting participation goals
▪ Future economic opportunities for the stadium project
“This information session (was) an occasion for small and medium sized business owners to learn more about the economic opportunities available from the new Atlanta stadium project, and how it can serve as an economic engine for Atlanta,” said Atlanta City Council President Ceaser Mitchell. “I commend the Atlanta Falcons for their commitment to minority participation in the stadium project, and I look forward to their continued partnership.”
In addition to this information session, Mitchell will continue to demonstrate his commitment to small- and medium-sized business development by hosting his annual “Back to Business Conference” later this summer. It will help connect small and medium sized businesses to procurement opportunities within the public and private sectors.
The Atlanta Business League seeks to provide economic empowerment and business development opportunities for minorities throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area and the famous business organization had solid representation at the EBO plan update meeting.
“This transparent process for engaging qualified minority and female businesses in the new stadium project is great for our organization. The Atlanta Business League is a strong force for positive growth in Atlanta and ultimately helps ensure that Atlanta is thriving. We are excited about the possibilities of some of our business owners being a part of the design and construction of the new stadium,” said Leona Barr-Davenport, president and CEO of the Atlanta Business League.”
Still, some remain skeptical and looked askance at the process as it has commenced. Muhammad was perhaps justifiably apprehensive after discerning the amount of participation by minorities — or lack thereof — in the current demolition process. He wants the team and city leaders to launch software applications that could be used to alert minority contractors when contract opportunities become available.