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Verizon Grant To Help Create Greater Opportunities for California’s Black-owned Businesses

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CBM Staff Report

Joined by collaborative partners the National Black Business Council, the California Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Black Business Association, Verizon announced Tuesday, seed funding for a historic consortium designed to provide greater opportunities for California's African-American owned businesses.

The African-American Supplier Engagement Collaboration not only creates supplier diversity opportunities for Verizon, but encourages other major corporations throughout California to develop partnerships as well.

Verizon Western Region President Tim McCallion urged other corporations to see this as an opportunity for engagement and collaboration with the minority business community. "This effort will provide a pathway where suppliers can compete. It's a big investment in building a network of the future," he stated. "The program will create new opportunities for California corporations to develop enduring partnerships with African-American owned companies, based on a solid value proposition for all involved," he told attendees at the ceremony held at the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles.

Also present at the ceremony were Assembly Member Curren Price, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Procurement, and recently confirmed California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Simon.

Simon called the partnership a "bold step" that will provide access to opportunity not a barrier in the process to certification. He praised Verizon for its leadership and called this step a reflection of a corporate culture that believes economic access is important to the growth of all communities.

Price, head of the  newly created committee responsible for examining and expanding opportunities for small businesses and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) to apply for and gain government contracts, called this type of partnership "fundamental." "This is especially important where small businesses are concerned, as their growth and success is paramount for the state's success; while the small business is providing a much needed service to the public, the state is serving the public good by supporting small businesses," he said.

The initiatives of the African-American Supplier Engagement Collaboration include:

  • Developing step-by-step instructions to guide participating businesses through the request-for-proposal process;
  • Providing a template showing participating businesses ways they can engage other African-American businesses as second-tier contractors;
  • Increasing the number of African-American businesses listed in the California Public Utilities Commission clearinghouse by developing resources to help applicants navigate the certification process.

According to Verizon, the grant continues its commitment to creating diversity among its suppliers and promoting the prosperity of the communities where it does business. In 2007 Verizon spent more than $157 million with minority, women and disabled veteran business enterprises in California.

Verizon Western Region President Tim McCallion (4th from the left) is joined by Robert Gnaizda, Greenlining Institute; Skip Cooper, BBA; Mary Ann Mitchell, NBBC; Aubry Stone, CBCC; and CPUC Commissioner Timothy Simon

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