ALBANY, Ga. -- Georgia Tech's Procurement Assistance Program will continue to serve as the manager of the city's small business program after narrowly winning a contract extension following a 4-3 vote Tuesday night by the Albany City Commission.
Program officials had asked for a one-year, $100,000 contract extension, but concerns from commissioners led to a 3-2 vote against renewing the contract at a work session Feb. 21. Work session votes are non-binding and final votes have to be taken at business meetings of the commission.
When the votes counted Tuesday, Commissioners Ivey Hines, Roger Marietta, Bob Langstaff and Tommie Postell voted in favor of the extension, while Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Commissioners Jon Howard and Christopher Pike voted against it. While there was little discussion before the vote, Hubbard and Pike each aired concerns with the program at the Feb. 21 meeting.
"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 Feb. 21 meeting. "And I'm also curious as to how the services you're providing to us for a fee are different than 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.
Pike wondered if there were existing programs available to help small businesses that wouldn't come at such a steep price for taxpayers.
"I'll be honest. There are entities here in Albany that do these services for small businesses," Pike said at the Feb. 21 meeting. "I'm concerned we're giving Tech $100,000 and 50 to 60 percent of that is heading to Atlanta."
LaToya Cutts, director of the city's Community and Economic Development Department, said that the heads of the program have promised to carry out a number of "deliverables" in the 2012 contract that are new to the program.
Those deliverables include increased education and training opportunities on Albany's specific small business program for interested businesses, additional assistance for businesses that want to attempt to qualify with the state and federal government as disadvantaged business enterprises, and a new airport component that will bring the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport into compliance with new Federal Aviation Administration requirements to have a small business office.
Cutts also Tech's office also has been tasked with developing a transitional plan for moving the program under the auspices of the city government, a move that would eventually phase it out as program manager.
The purpose of Albany's small business program is to educate, train and get small businesses a shot at local, state and federal contract opportunities.
So far, the city program and a similar program managed by Georgia Tech for Dougherty County have netted millions of awarded contract dollars to businesses within Southwest Georgia.