NAACP vows to shut down developments that don't include minorities

By Matt Butner - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT)- The NAACP issued a warning Monday to developers in Richmond: Open up to minorities, or be shut down.

The group is pushing the city of Richmond to get serious about enforcing minority hiring guidelines for construction.

The message from King Salim Khalfani of the Virginia NAACP was loud and clear.

"There will be no more development in this town that black businesses and their communities are not involved in the planning or the construction thereof," announced Khalfani from the steps of City Hall Monday morning.

The proposed means to that end are drastic. The NAACP says it will block projects that don't comply -- literally.

"We got some trucks -- dump trucks, hauling trucks," Khalfani said. "They don't have long.  We've already been sizing it up."

The people behind projects like the redevelopments of Dove Court and the Hotel John Marshall were put on notice. Those projects are funded in part by federal money, and the NAACP says that means they have to be open to minority companies. Khalfani says they have fallen short.

"They have no black participation. Black businesses and construction firms did not get a request for proposals," said Khalfani.

The NAACP is also putting pressure on the city of Richmond, which it says has a dismal record of hiring minority contractors for city projects. A spokesman for the mayor says minority business development is a top priority, pointing to a proposed loan program to help those businesses.

"That's why we've developed the loan program, which was implemented in the budget, to help minority businesses bridge the gap in financing," said Jeffrey Bourne, mayor Jones' deputy chief of staff.

The NAACP says it will work with the city to coordinate efforts to bring minority owned businesses to the table -- something the group says is long overdue.

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