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Small business contract renewed in close vote

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.

Comments

gotanyfacts 2 years, 1 month ago

Did those who had questions when it came time to vote communicate those questions to people running the program prior to the meeting. If not, they are failing in their responsibilities to the citizens. If they did and have not gotten responses, that information should have been in the article.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 1 month ago

Christopher Pike is such a progressive commissioner. Thanks for your no vote. Also, thank you Mayor Hubbard and Jon Howard for your no votes. I too question where that money is really going...

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DidYouKnow 2 years, 1 month ago

Albany needs a strong business development program. There have been so many inconsistencies and internal failures with this program. There are huge gaps, credibility and distrust issues here. Georgia Tech has established a name of prominence in this country. However, this unfortunately allows them to use their name to not perform with the standards and with the integrity their name has been identified with. Their marketing and branding does bring it good fortune. In this case, it has not been earned. This ,part of the organization has hired people who are not credible, educated and seasoned for the work they have been hired to do. The less credible,less educated and less seasoned are placed in areas of Georgia where the organization believes the people are not as bright or less deserving, i.e. Albany. Backgrounds have been exaggerated to give the perception that these people are qualified or credible to direct, educate or counsel businesses. The data of success has been purposely structured to mislead. And, as a result, the lack of insight by the city management team or the city commissioners is of such that they do not know what questions to ask to get the right information. The managers and leaders of Albany have a history of rewarding failures and poor output. As long as the perception to the public is untarnished, the city management and city leaders will allow failure and manipulation to dominate the decisions of the community. This should not be a decision of who likes whom or what's in it for me "under the table" or favors promised or threats spoken or implied. The decisions for this community should be made with integrity, with facts and the decision to always do the right thing for the people with the people's money. This often means that doing the right thing may not be convenient. It will require work and the discomfort of falling out of favor with someone who manipulates decisions and carries a big stick. It often appears that the city management team and the city commissioners have their internal club of "who's in" and "who's out" club. Decisions are made based on internal alignments so the perception of how votes and decisions are made does not appear to align with a certain person or individuals. It becomes an internal power play at best. Anyone with courage or integrity who is not afraid of being put out of the "in club?" More importantly, is there anyone who cares? I think the answer to this last question is probably a big NO.

Maybe this time, the Georgia Tech Procurement Center guy will do the right thing since they nearly lost this bag of money to help fund their bonuses, trips and conferences. Whew! That was close wasn’t it? Well, since no one is looking, they don’t have to be that careful. Just get the bonus money and run! You can always fix the books when they request a financial report. The more than $1M the DOD gives Georgia Tech is what pays for these services to be delivered throughout Georgia.

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