NEW ORLEANS - At this week's New Orleans City Council Community Development Committee meeting, the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce (NORBCC) provided an overview of longstanding disparities, further exacerbated by COVID-19, that impact New Orleans citizens and small businesses.
NORBCC offered several solution-driven recommendations to the Committee that address equity, including creating a new City Council Equity Committee. This new Committee would be responsible for employing an equity lens that ensures the embedding of the principles of fairness and justice for all in its decision-making and policy-making. NORBCC also recommended that the Council consider adopting an equity note process to function as a fiscal note. This process would allow any Councilmember to request an independent analysis of the potential equity impacts of a proposed ordinance, resolution, or similar instrument. Members of the Committee also discussed necessary reformative measures to the City's DBE ordinance that would demand consistent utilization of historically disadvantaged businesses.
"Around the world, communities are examining the systematic racial disparities that adversely impact segments of their communities. Creating equity is not just going to happen by chance; it must be an intentional mandate attended to daily. We intend to help mandate equity through a newly created Equity Committee," said the Committee's Chair, District B Councilman. "This will be a model that operates under the mantra of: "Not only do as I say, but do as I do." We concur that there is a global awareness of the urgency of now. People who never paid attention before are now keenly aware of the necessity to address longstanding disparities because inequity affects all of us."
"The recent disparity study and other data confirm that our current policies have not moved the needle for our minority and DBE businesses in a meaningful way. NORBCC stands ready to work with the Council to shift the narrative through compliance and a renewed focus on refining our existing economic inclusion policies," said Arkebia Johnson, a NORBCC Board Member and Chair of its Programs Committee.
NORBCC's Executive Director, Kelisha Garrett stated, "The New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce is committed to working with Councilman Banks and the entire Council in changing outcomes that affect our region's most vulnerable communities, including our small business community, through the creation of an Equity Committee of the Council, the adoption of the use of equity notes on Council legislation, and the development of an effective DBE ordinance."
Councilman Banks expects to introduce an ordinance on the creation of the Equity Committee to the Council at an upcoming meeting and the implementation of equity notes, which gained support from Councilmembers Williams, Moreno, and Nguyen, who joined the committee meeting. The Committee members are also committed to convening stakeholders to review and overhaul the City's DBE ordinance, which is required by law.
Chief of Staff
Councilmember Jay H. Banks, District B