African American Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doris Carson Williams is fond of saying that not only can you call Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, when you do, he gets the message and follows through.
And so, as he has for seven years in a row, when Williams called, Fitzgerald followed through with his tradition of kicking the Chamber’s PowerBreakfast series as the first speaker of the new year.
And, for the seventh year in a row, there was a full house at the Jan. 19 Rivers Club event to hear him talk about the state of the county and of its African Americans’ private- and public-sector economies—which he said are improving.
“Since I took office, and this is through last September, the county has hired 2,843 people. Of those, 693—24 percent—are African American,” he said. “And through this month, of the 69 hired at the director or deputy director level, 15 are African Americans.”
He also noted that, though the report from 2017 hasn’t been assembled yet, in 2016, the County Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged business Enterprises certified 172 new businesses which reported combined gross receipts of more than $693 million.
As for contracting with Black-owned businesses in 2016, Fitzgerald said the county committed $1.28 million, or 24 percent of the annual total, for Purchasing and Supplies; $4.4 million, or 16 percent, on Public Works contracts; $3.25 million, 11 percent, on economic development; and issued 100 Human Services contracts to African American community agencies and Faith organizations, which had an average value of $945,000.