ALBANY -- The Albany City Commission signaled a desire Tuesday to abandon its Small Business Program facilitator over concerns of costs and productivity.
The commission tentatively voted 3-2, with Commissioners Bob Langstaff and Ivey Hines absent, not to renew a $100,000 contract it has with Georgia Tech to administer its Small Business Program.
While the vote is not binding until taken at Tuesday's regular night meeting, the measure will still need four votes to renew the contract.
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, along with Commissioners Jon Howard and Christopher Pike voted against renewing the contract, while Commissioners Tommie Postell and Roger Marietta voted in support.
"Before I can vote to renew a contract, I need to see what the accomplishments are, and what you've been able to do with the money we've already given," Hubbard said after the meeting. "And I'm also curious as to how the services you're providing to us for a fee different that what you offer the public for free."
Hubbard said she also had reservations about a change in how the $100,000 fee will be paid out.
Commissioner Christopher Pike said during the meeting that he believes that the services the city is hiring Georgia Tech to perform are similar to ones offered by other organizations like the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and that the city should consider taking advantage of them and possibly saving some money.
"I'll be honest, there are entities here in Albany that do these services for small businesses," Pike said. "I'm concerned we're giving Tech $100,000 and 50 to 60 percent of that is heading to Atlanta. Could we have the 11 businesses using local services?"
Chuck Schadl, the executive director of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Program, told commissioners that he believed the results of the program through January seem to suggest progress.
"I believe that the increase in the number of contract awards suggest we're moving in the right direction," Schadl said.
Schadl said that, under the Albany program, that 11 businesses in Albany and Dougherty County had received $6.3 million in local, state and federal contracts as of November.
Of those 11, five had become certified small businesses through the program and received $1.7 million in government contracts.
In January, the program added six new firms to the mix, Schadl said.
William Wright, the former executive director of the Albany Branch of the NAACP and currently the president and CEO of an agency called the Albany EDC, handed out copies of a press release and a letter addressed to City Manager James Taylor, Hubbard and to commissioners and the media challenging the validity of the Albany program.
"The City of Albany via the so called ASBE has almost completely dismantling (sic) affirmative action for the entire Albany City Commission," Wright writes. "...The Albany Small Business Plan, as in the future, will only operate to destroy Black businesses of the City of Albany."