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City wants to hear from businesses owned by minorities

September 01, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown is compiling a list of minority-owned businesses and the people who own and operate them.

Those businesses might be eligible for grants, loans or partnerships through state programs, said Deborah Everhart, the city's economic development director.

Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean said she suggested the idea because it was needed.

Business owners who respond will be invited to a luncheon in a few months. Representatives from the state's Office of Minority Business Enterprise and Office of Equity and Economic Empowerment will be there to talk about programs they offer, Everhart said.

Both offices are part of the state's Department of Transportation.

According to the state, a minority business is one in which at least 51 percent is "owned and controlled by one or more minority persons."

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People who are African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, Native American, women or disabled qualify as minorities.

An online Department of Transportation directory says 18 Hagerstown businesses are registered as being owned by minorities.

Twelve of the 18 businesses are owned by women. Two qualified as "community rehabilitation" programs.

Of the other four, one owner is Asian-American, one is Hispanic-American, one is African-American and one is Native American.

Parson-McBean, who is black, said those numbers are well short of reality, particularly in the African-American category.

A list compiled by Brothers United Who Dare to Care, a Hagerstown black advocacy group, is evidence.

The group's Web site, black menwhocare.org, names 21 local businesses owned by black people.

The city has posted information about its minority-business census on its cable access channel.

A form is available for download at the city's Web site at www.hagerstownmd.org/Econ_Dev/MinorityOwners.asp.

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