Albany drops small business agency plan

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany city commissioners voted Tuesday to reject a plan to create an office focused on building small businesses, officials say.

The Office of Small Business Utilization would have helped provide a sheltered market within the city's bidding process for small businesses that met certain size and geographical requirements in an attempt to help level the playing field for those businesses that are often outbid by larger companies.

That office would have replaced the Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (SDBU) Office, which was disbanded following a disparity study that recommended local governments abandon race- and gender-conscious programs.

Earlier this month, the Dougherty County Commission voted down a similar program.

While the issue could be revisited in the future, the county has given notice to former SDBU Director Pinky Modeste that the office is to be closed by April 30, County Administrator Richard Crowdis said, which will ultimately result in the loss of two full-time employees in the office.

"This is not a surprise to the employees in that office," Crowdis said. "I've had talks with Pinky and they knew that everything was on an up-or-down vote."

Crowdis said that the budget for the office last year was roughly $143,000 -- money that will be saved in the coming fiscal year.

Both commissions will embrace a "lowest and best bid" posture on procurement.