Friday evening at the Improv Center, approximately 200 guests arrived to celebrate recipients receiving various awards for their contribution to the community.
The theme for the event was “New Beginnings.” Brian Wyer, Director of GAACC, welcomed the crowd before the Host, Robin Reshard, took to the podium. “We want you to enjoy the evening,” he began. “As you meet and talk with each other, don’t talk business. Instead, get to each other and enjoy the evening.”
Robin Reshard came to the podium and instantly began to lighten the atmosphere with her antics and humor. From jokes to the visiting ministers to the keynote speaker, everyone took it in stride.
The evening was off to a wonderful start as everyone gathered to enjoy a delicious buffet meal of pulled pork, baked chicken and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and a beverage.
Afterwards, the speaker of the evening, Quint Studer, addressed the audience with greetings. “Small business is what really makes any type of business,” he began. “68 percent of jobs garner the business sector.”
“I want to thank you. Remember back in 2004-2005 we had this little thing called Maritime Park? I don’t know if you are aware of that, but it was sort of controversial. It was a very difficult referendum, a very emotional referendum for a lot of people. Around that a lot of people wondered if it was going to deliver.” The biggest expense of Maritime Park was 18 million dollars of toxic soil. We still had 7,000 people voted against it. People at that time had certain negativity. 33% of the people were against everything. It’s not because they are negative people, sometimes it just the fact that you’ve been let down a little. Sometimes you’ve been promised, and it has not been delivered. I learned that as I went through this process.”
So as we were going through that, one of the things we are looking at are jobs. Its in my book called Building a Vibrant Community. The reviewers read it and when they read it, iit was the story that they liked the best.
“When we went to do this, I thought I had a good emotional an account in the Black community. So, as we were getting ready to vote, we started going out to the neighborhoods and I said it was going to create jobs; great jobs in the minority community. People asked is it true? And how do you know that and I replied ‘I give you my word. Their polite reply was that’s not good enough. Put it in writing. So we did. It was known as The Covenant with the community.” It was piloted with the Maritime Park.”
Studer went on to explain the Covenant to the audience. “When you do something in the community, you guarantee that 70% of all those employed are local. Legally you can’t get into race, but you can say local.” Studer continued speaking about the relations of Contractors and their ability to hire local after a little persuasion. As a result, 30+ percent or approximately 3.5 million dollars went to the local minority pool. Another project sponsored, brought approximately 4 million dollars to the community. South Town is an apartment complex by the Y (YMCA) that is a 52 million dollar project with 26 million in construction dollars. So far 20 million has been spent on labor costs. Labor dollars with minorities is at 51% right now.” That’s’ $10,637,000 that’s been put back into the minority community.
Studer went on to say that the community is about to receive government money, BP funds and TRIUMP funds as well.
In the future, there are plans to bring apartments to the Belmont Devilliers area as well as apprenticeship program for that project. “There is a great demand for skill trade set. “ Studer in his address to the crowd made it very clear that he’s very committed to bringing jobs and money to the minority community. “It’s all about creating dollars for the community.”
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