GOP Urban Leaders Conference Targets Minority Voters
By Joanna Richards
Coinciding with the first Republican presidential primary debates last night, the party wrapped up a two-day conference in Cleveland today aimed at boosting its success in urban areas and with minority voters. The urban leadership event marks a first-time effort for national Republicans.
Local African-American businessman Andrew Jackson – who calls himself a Republi-crat – led a discussion on minority engagement. His voting record is mostly Democratic, but he’s now leaning Republican thanks to his enthusiasm for Governor John Kasich.
Jackson serves on the steering committee for the Opportunity Corridor road project’s advisory council, and supports Kasich’s commitment of 20 percent of contracts to minority businesses.
He says politicians need to help educate minority business owners about the government contracting process, and make opportunities more accessible to first-generation entrepreneurs like him.
"You have to make those contracts more palatable for minorities. You can't ask me to do a $10 million dollar contract when I am a $1 million dollar business. But maybe if you help me carve out a million-dollar contract that I can get started with, I can ultimately get to a $10 million dollar contract," he said, after the panel discussion.
Jackson says minority business leaders like him also have a role in reaching out to their community, to try to connect other entrepreneurs with public contracting opportunities.
Now Jackson’s working on persuading his parents to consider voting Republican, too.