York County's new manager, Jim Baker, will meet today with local NAACP leaders to hear concerns about the county's efforts to hire minority-owned companies.
"Minority businesses aren't getting the same opportunities as everybody else in the county," said Steve Love, president of the organization's Western York County chapter. "We've been working with the county to try and change that. I want to make sure he doesn't drop the ball."
Baker, who started last Tuesday, said he needs to familiarize himself with the issues before taking any positions.
"Right now, I'm trying to meet with many different organizations and get their perspectives," Baker said. "I'm more than happy to sit down and listen to what they have to tell me. I don't have any specific game plan other than to listen."
Love and Herb Crump, president of Rock Hill's NAACP chapter, plan to present Baker with figures that explain why improvements are needed. Minority-owned businesses received $7,871 in contracts from the county in 2004-2005, figures from the county purchasing office show. The county hires businesses to do everything from cut the grass at county facilities to cater dinners at council workshops, usually by picking the lowest bidder.
Thirty-four minority-owned businesses have registered to be considered for bids on such jobs. The figures show that three were awarded contracts in 2004-2005. Love says that's not good enough in a county where blacks comprise 20 percent of the population and the annual budget exceeds $260 million.
Busy debut for Baker
The NAACP meeting highlights a busy first week for Baker, who has met with County Council members and department supervisors and chatted with other local officials.
On Monday morning, Baker and Rock Hill City Manager Carey Smith touched on a number of issues during a half-hour meeting with staffs from both offices. One issue that didn't come up was the ongoing feud over a construction and debris landfill on Vernsdale Road.
"I'm sure we'll probably be getting around to that in the near future," Baker said.
Love returned home last week from Detroit, where he attended the national NAACP convention. He also squeezed in a trip to the Palace at Auburn Hills to watch Ivory Latta play for the Detroit Shock. Latta, who grew up in McConnells and has known Love for years, scored 13 points in her team's victory.