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Hunt Wants to Give Minority Business Owners More State Contracts

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RALEIGH — Governor Jim Hunthas pledged to give minority business owners a bigger piece of the government pie, and now he is doing it.

The Governor's goal is to raise the percentage of state contracts going to these businesses to 10 percent by the year 2000. The focus will be on minorities, women and disabled business owners who historically have not worked with the state.

For the first time, the state has hired a director for the program to make sure the goals are reached.

Phil Freelon is a regular when it comes to working with the state. In the past nine years, his architectural firm inDurhamhas handled at least a dozen state projects.

Freelon is working on plans to renovate the old state revenue building in Raleigh.

"We're going to open this entrance up again, and it will then be the entrance to the building," said Freelon.

Bridget Wall was recently hired by the state to recruit businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities.

She says there are barriers which keep these business owners from applying for state contracts.

"Some of those barriers may include access to capital. It may include technology. It may include not knowing how to indentify contract opportunities," explained Wall.

"If it's a good fit and the qualifications are there, why not bring these folks into the contracting process?" said Freelon.

Freelon wants other minorities to have the opportunities which he has had. He says the program is not a free ride. It simply gives people a shot.

"It's still competitive, so the issue is really bringing folks to the table and allowing them to compete," said Freelon.

In the last few years, less than five percent of state contracts have been awarded to businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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