Saturday, June 10, 2006

Minority Affairs

g-naacp 06-08-06
copyright2006 LJM


GARY--Wrapping up a series of meetings in the area, a representative from Governor Mitch Daniels met with constituents Thursday at the Barbara Leak Wesson Center to hear from the local branch of the NAACP.
Tony Kirkland, Senior Advisor, Minority Affairs of the
Intergovernmental Affairs Department said it's important that the
Governor's office is in touch with the needs of local residents.
"I wanted to let the members of NAACP know that I am in the office
and I want to get some of the Governor's initiatives out. We want
to make sure we are being inclusive to minorities. (Business)
opportunities do exist and (residents) should take advantage of all
of them," he said.
Mentioned were the "Major Moves" initiative and the "Indiana Plan".
Major Moves is a comprehensive ten-year investment plan in IndianaÂ’s infrastructure to improve the economy and create job opportunities for Hoosiers. Major Moves eliminates the stateÂ’s transportation budget deficit and invests in the stateÂ’s future through public-private partnerships to complete over 200 vital transportation projects.
The Indiana Plan is a unique approach to preparing people for careers in the construction industry. The Indiana Plan accepts all people, regardless of educational background, work experience, age, gender or race. Opportunities for good-paying, skilled positions are available for people who are trained for the task. The construction building trades are one of the fastest growing areas of our nation's economy.
Specifically, officials were in the area this week talking about some of the programs that involve starting adult day cares and training programs that instruct in the building trades and road work construction.
Kirkland found that some qualified business aren't certified as minority
or woman owned due to mistrust of big government by minority and woman business
owners.
Sometimes not registering is due to lack of knowledge. The
state wants to protect itself from being scammed by front companies,
where businesses are minority or woman owned in name only.
In spite of this, to be considered for contracts with local and state
government designated for minority and women businesses, those
businesses must be registered as such, Kirkland said.
"They think they will miss out on funds coming to the area. There are
problems communicating the (details) of how to operate their own
business. Companies need to come to the table prepared," Kirkland
said.
Money from the state for repairing roads and other infrastructure
improvements is in the works. Each county in the state could see up
$150 million.
"Northwest Indiana stands to get money after the Toll Road is
leased," Kirkland said.
The money may be administrated by local city government, he said. He
guessed possibly from $2 to $6 million could be seen in the area,
however, "it's not etched in stone". Workforce Development may be a
sponsor of a training program where people are trained on completing
roadwork and construction jobs.
Tammi Davis, president of the NAACP said it's important that
information like this gets around.
"We invited Tony Kirkland to come here so that we can have someone
who represents the minority community to the Governor's office. We
thought it was time we had a conversation with him--not about
anything in particular but in general. We want our voices to be heard
and taken seriously all the way downstate," she said.
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