Minority-Owned Business Testimonial

Thank you. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to come before Chairwoman Feeney and the entire Boston 2004 Committee to discuss the goals, efforts and record of the 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee, particularly in regard to involving the city’s communities and businesses in the first modern-day political convention to be held in this great city. I say “modern day” because this city has a long and storied history of hosting successful political gatherings, and I know this Convention will be no exception.

One of the many attractions of Boston as a Convention site is the cultural and workforce diversity that makes this one of the greatest cities in the world. Our commitment—and our record—in involving these communities is stronger and better than any Convention—Democrat or Republican—in the history of the two major political parties.

In fact, the Bay State Banner, the area’s most influential African American newspaper, says
“a closer look at the contracts that have been issued so far or promised by the city and the Democratic National Committee revealed substantial business being funneled to minority-owned companies.”

One of the first things the DNCC did when we arrived in Boston last summer was put our money where our mouth is, depositing $7 million in minority-owned and local banks. A total of $4 million was deposited in each of the minority-owned banks: $2 million to OneUnited Bank and $2 million to the Asian American Bank in Boston. That’s double the amount deposited in minority-owned banks in Los Angeles in 2004.

The second thing we did was hire staff to begin laying the personnel infrastructure to support the Convention. Currently, people of color make up almost 50 percent of our staff. Almost 50 percent our total staff is from the Boston area, as is 50 percent of our minority staff. Again,
I know of no other political convention that has demonstrated this kind of commitment to diversity and to its host city in hiring. And I want to make clear that we intend to build on
that commitment as we continue to hire the people necessary to run a Convention that will bring 5,000 delegates, 15,000 reporters, and thousands of additional visitors to the city.
We’re also proud to have as chair of the Convention Committee Alice Huffman, president
of the California NAACP and as chairman of the Convention, Bill Richardson, the only
Latino governor in the U.S.

In the past five months, our outreach staff has held close to 250 meetings and briefings with community groups, involving more than 2,000 people ranging from local elected officials to representatives of community groups throughout the Boston area, including African American, Latino, Asian American and women’s groups.

It’s important to note that the largest and most comprehensive contract let to date by the DNCC and the Host Committee is a $3.5 million construction contract. Two minority business enterprises—SAR Engineering and the Primary Group—are part of the management team on this project, and $2.8 million—more than half of the total contract—will be let to Boston area subcontractors. At least half of that amount—$1.4 million—is guaranteed for minority and women-owned businesses. That’s not rhetoric, that’s reality—real jobs for real people here in the Boston area, which, by the way, is more than President Bush can claim to have delivered for Boston since taking office.

We also applaud the Host Committee for its outreach efforts and in setting up a vendor directory for local businesses. Their work has been instrumental in giving local businesses a forum for their services.

We are committed to working with you and your constituents to maximize the many opportunities this Convention will bring. But we want to do it in a way that will not only bring in business during the Convention, but also help Boston area businesses build relationships that will last well past July. Many—in fact most—of these opportunities will come as the Convention gets closer and may not necessarily come directly from the Convention. It is important for us to encourage your constituent businesses to not only reach out to the Convention and the Host Committee, but to also reach out to each other. For example, while the Convention and Host Committee will be booking catering services, so will the many VIPs, corporations, and organizations coming to town. If one service is already booked by the Convention or the Host Committee, a simple referral to another catering service could result in a long-term business relationship for that other caterer. In fact—and I hesitate to say this—but since the Convention business ends after August, the companies that grab up the ancillary business have the better long-term business opportunities! I talked recently to one vendor in LA who said he continued to get business calls two years after the Convention had left town.

I want to thank the Committee for its support of the Convention and for the opportunity to discuss our plans with you. 151 days from today, when we gavel open our Convention at the Fleet Center, Boston will shine on the world’s stage as a diverse, vibrant and thoroughly world-class city. We could not be happier about our choice to come to Boston and thank everyone in this City for their extraordinary support.