By Ashley Conroy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Several dozen business leaders and representatives from state agencies joined the Joint Legislative Study Group on Tuesday at the state capitol to listen to what role the state could play to enable more minority businesses to work out public contracts.
Democratic Sen. John Horhn of Jackson says the reason is to improve minority business in Mississippi.
"The number of minority owned businesses is about 13.3 percent in Mississippi out of about 187,000 businesses."
The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) presented to lawmakers.
Their goal is to present factual information to lawmakers and devise a plan on how to improve this overall percentage.
"We want to teach the A-B-C's to all those entrepreneurs out there who need that help," said Director of Minority Small Business Development for MDA, Bob Covington.
Sen. Horhn says they're also looking into any legislation that could result from these meetings. "How we can improve those numbers and how we can do more policies and potential legislation."
Meantime, long-time minority business owner Socrates Garrett, owns Garrett Enterprises in Jackson. He's been running the business since 1980 and says over the years, working out public deals ensures business won't dry up.
"When you do business with municipalities and state government, you basically become recession proof," Garrett said.
Garrett says through patience and hard work, they have built up a credible reputation over the years. To get here, Garrett says it's been about establishing good working relationships.
"It's about marketing and networking and checking to see what is out there." Garrett continued, "And I look everyday for every opportunity that I can find for this firm."
Spokesperson Kimberly Wiggins with the Dept. of Finance and Administration (DFA) says improving minority businesses will help grow Mississippi's economy.
"Well minority businesses are small business in our state and small businesses in our state represent a large portion of economic growth for our state."
Lawmakers and state agencies are also meeting at the capitol about this issue on Wednesday.
DFA, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) are a few to present to lawmakers.
Sen. Horhn says the group is also meeting with several businesses and associations in several weeks, but they plan to have a full report to the state legislature by December 1st.
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