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African American Chamber hosts public forum Jan. 24

Chamber gathers input from business community amid concerns of significant changes to minority business set aside laws

CINCINNATI -- Amid concerns of significant changes to minority business set aside laws, the African American Chamber will host a minority business forum on the State of Ohio proposed changes to current MBE/Edge Programs on January 24.  The legislation, known as House Bill 584,  established rules for a set aside program to increase minority and disadvantaged businesses participation in State contracts.  Ohio is one of the few states in the US with a minority business set-aside law.

The importance of the Bill is that it includes a number of key provisions including: the creation of a minority development loan program, establishing the Minority Business Development Division, a 15% set-aside of procurement contracts for minority businesses, and a 5% set aside of state construction contracts for economically disadvantaged groups (minority, woman, veteran, etc), among other requirements.  The State of Ohio spends about $1.7 billion annually which can create substantial growth for minority and disadvantaged businesses.  

Our members contacted us with concerns about how the proposed changes will affect contracting opportunities as minority owned businesses continue to seek business relationships with the State,” says Sean Rugless, President of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce.  "We felt more information needed to be shared on how these proposed changes will affect minority and disadvantged businesses."

The Chamber has not been alone in requesting a dialogue.  State Representative Alicia Reece, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, has reached out to state government to encourage engagement with the minority business sector."

On Friday, January 24, the African American Chamber of Commerce invites the Greater Cincinnati business community to an MBE/EDGE briefing to gain insight and provide feedback on the ODAS proposed changes.  The meeting will be held at 1 pm at the American Red Cross Conference Center, 2111 Dana Road in Evanston.  

"We are looking forward to robust conversations with ODAS in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus as they gain insight from businesses on the proposed changes.  As a business advocate, we strongly believe those impacted should have a representative voice in the decision-making process," adds Rugless.”  

As the president of the African American Chamber of Commerce, Rugless also serves as a Governor’s appointee on The Ohio Minority Business Advisory Council which advises the Minority Business Development Division and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services in matters affecting the economic vitality of Ohio's minority business community.  Feedback from the forum will be submitted to ODAS prior to January 31, the close of the public comment period. 

To RSVP for the forum, call the African American Chamber at 751-9900.  

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