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Minority And Women Business Owners Still A Small Piece Of The Economic Pie

In 1981, the Allegheny County Commissioners determined that minority and women business owners should receive a better share of government contracts. Goals were established: 13 percent for minority business owners and 2 percent for women business owners.

Twenty-three years later, the two groups represented a combined 17 to 23 percent of purchasing, economic development and pubic works contracts awarded by the commission. In every instance, the number of contracts given to minority owners far exceeded the number granted to women.

“Overall, we have done extremely well,” said Ruth Byrd-Smith, director of the Allegheny County Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Department Enterprise. “We’re a little over the goal.”

The enterprise and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission are teaming up again to host their 12th annual open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Two Chatham Center in Downtown Pittsburgh to help ensure business people continue pursuing these goals. Both represent a "historic underutilization," Byrd-Smith said.

The gathering promises to provide owners with useful information to enhance their businesses, including networking opportunities, a presentation from Dollar Bank's in-house credit specialist and tutorials about useful documentation owners should always have on hand.