After some heated exchanges, Missouri City councilmembers voted unanimously, 6-0, in favor of a new Missouri City small business program. Council member Floyd Emory was not present for medical reasons.
Several business owners from Missouri City and the surrounding area attended the meeting at Missouri City Hall on Monday night, to hear information on the recommended small business program; hear the Council discussion on the issue; and be present for the vote.
In a strongly-worded letter, dated July 21, 2014 and sent prior to the vote, State Senator Rodney Ellis along with his colleagues - U.S. Congressman Al Green, State Representative Ron Reynolds and Constable Ruben Davis - challenged Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen and the members of the Missouri City council to vote on the resolution adopting a small business policy that would make doing business with the City of Missouri City more equitable and fair.
The letter encouraged Mayor Owen and Missouri City council members to vote on a resolution that included recommendations made by the consulting firm A.O. Phillips & Associates. Back in October 2013, A.O. Phillips & Associates was hired by the city of Missouri City in order to establish the parameters for a small business program, with procedures where small businesses from Missouri City and other areas had the opportunity to participate.
Upon being hired, A.O. Phillips & Associates reviewed and evaluated Missouri City’s current procurement system to determine the appropriateness of establishing a formal small business program. After the review was completed, recommendations were provided to Missouri City regarding adopting a race and gender neutral, small business policy and process which included all small businesses in the Houston Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) that are certified by the City of Houston and Metro, as well as businesses that are HUB certified by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
According to the letter from the four African American elected officials, the resolution presented to Missouri City council members on July 7, 2014 was completely different than the original version submitted by A.O. Phillips & Associates and was void of the firms’ essential recommendations. The revised resolution came up for a vote during the July 7 council meeting, but was subsequently tagged for further review by Councilwoman Yolanda Ford.
Councilwoman Ford and many supporters of the proposed small business program argued the revised resolution, presented to council on July 7, appeared to codify the existing practices in Missouri City; something many small businesses in and around the area wanted to see changed.
On the other side of the coin, supporters of the amended resolution wanted to alleviate concerns several small businesses in Missouri City had, which consisted of making sure the city focused on engaging small businesses within its boundaries first, before going outside of the community.
This is where the majority of contention came from.
Supporters of the original recommendations, presented by A.O. Phillips & Associates, argued that limiting the small business program to Missouri City residents only and keeping the program with select restricted parameters would actually stifle the Missouri City small business program, in that there are currently a limited number of local small businesses that can actually meet the relevant contracting needs of Missouri City.
Several of the councilmembers expressed their desire to revisit the program after adopting the resolution, in order to ensure it meets the overall needs of Missouri City. In addition, supporters are hopeful that by demonstrating a robust small business program, Missouri City will attract other small businesses to the area and grow its economy while meeting its goal of involving small businesses in the City of Missouri City’s procurement of goods and services.