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Black Contractors: “We’ve Been Left Out of Katrina Rebuilding”

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Saturday, September 1, 2007

By CAIN BURDEAU
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Black contractors on Tuesday said they have been frozen out of the rebuilding of New Orleans because federal agencies continue to dole out millions of dollars to large corporations.

At a news conference, the local chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors called on the U.S. Congress and federal prosecutors to investigate the contracting practices of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The group also said they may resort to protests to get their message out.

“There’s something wrong with this cozy relationship between the Army Corps and major corporations,” said Ernest Stalberte, an association board member.

Stalberte delivered his remarks in a parking lot in a hard-hit part of New Orleans and he was surrounded by large digging and dirt-moving equipment brought in by black construction companies to show off their companies’ prowess.

The government’s reliance on major companies, such as AshBritt Inc., Phillips and Jordan Inc. and ECC Operating Services Inc., to do the cleanup after Katrina has been a source of contention since Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005.

A congressional committee has been calling for government agencies to do more business with small companies.

According to House Small Business Committee, the Department of Defense awarded 8 percent of its Gulf Coast recovery contracts to small businesses in Louisiana between August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, and October 4, 2006. However, that number dropped to 1 percent since then, committee figures show. The committee only had figures for the Department of Defense as a whole, but corps contracts have far outweighed other military branches for Katrina work.

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