News 12 at 6 o'clock/ Tuesday July 8th, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A 2009 study found the city of Augusta did business with less than seven percent of firms owned by women or minority groups.
Those groups own more than 30 percent of businesses in the area.
"It's more than an embarrassment," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Two minority business owners say for Augusta that's business as usual.
"It's been very difficult to do business with the city of Augusta and that's been historical," said Diverse Enterprise Johnnie Williams.
Williams and Michael Jacobs are business owners. Williams sells safety supplies and Jacobs runs a janitorial service. Both men say they've been turned down from doing any work with the city.
"We've bid on a number of contracts and the process itself is lacking fairness," Jacobs said.
The company that conducted the survey recommended more than 20 changes in how the city handles contract work. We're told after five years the city has not taken any action to correct the issues.
City leaders say Procurement Director Gerri Sams and Small Business Coordinator Yvonne Gentry started pointing fingers at each other for why nothing has changed in five years. Some commissioners want action and are talking about firing one or both of the city employees.
"Yesterday was a start of a prime example maybe, it's one of them we don't need," said Commissioner Grady Smith.
"We're still letting petty personality disorders get in the way of progress," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.
Small business owners like Williams and Jacobs don't care who's to blame, they say the city just needs to fix how contracts are handled.