Balto. County will be site of economic disparity study Minority group to research number of black businesses

Chamber of Commerce

July 10, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The National Black Chamber of Commerce has chosen Baltimore County as its first site to document an "economic disparity in the U.S.," the group's president said during its sixth annual convention, which began in Baltimore yesterday.

"About 98 percent of [African-American dollars] are going out of the community," said Harry Alford, the NBCC president.

In September, the Washington-based group will begin a study in Baltimore County to determine why areas with large black populations often have a much smaller black business community.

Based on its findings, the NBCC will develop a strategy for dealing with the problem and then start a chapter in Baltimore County to promote the changes it considers necessary.

"This will be a slow, strategic process to empower the community," Alford said. "That's how the National Black Chamber of Commerce deals with problems."

Founded in 1993 to promote development of black entrepreneurship and black-owned businesses in general, the organization is growing, Alford said. It represents more than 62,000 businesses nationwide and has 175 affiliates and chapters throughout the United States.

The NBCC has avoided metropolitan areas and has preferred starting chapters in the West, Midwest and South, with only scattered efforts in the East.

The only Maryland chapter is in Prince George's County. The development of the Baltimore County chapter will begin the group's efforts to organize chapters in urban areas along the East Coast, Alford said.

Also yesterday, the NBCC joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose portions of the Environmental Protection Agency's "environmental justice" policy.

The policy declares that low-income and minority communities suffer greater amounts of pollution than other communities. As a remedy, the agency requires businesses operating in such communities to remedy environmental wrongs.

The policy could make it too expensive for companies to locate operations in urban areas and provide residents with jobs, said Thomas J. Donahue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

During the convention's tribute dinner for former U.S. Rep. Parren J. Mitchell tonight at the Renaissance Hotel in the Inner Harbor, Cathy Hughes will receive the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Hughes is founder and owner of Radio One Inc., the largest black-owned and black-operated broadcast company in the country. Radio One owns four stations in Baltimore.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was named Mayor of the Year for his economic policies and social programs, and the development of his political platform, Alford said.

Pub Date: 7/10/98

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