- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans’ mayor signed an order yesterday requiring that large businesses use as many local and minority-owned firms as possible when they seek millions of dollars in tax incentives and grants for Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s executive order requires applicants for the incentives to involve 50 percent local businesses and 35 percent women- or minority-controlled businesses whenever possible.

A similar requirement has been in place for government contracts, but the mayor’s order expands it to businesses applying for assistance promised by various federally funded recovery programs that are administered by the city and the state.

“We just want to make sure we don’t go back to a city of haves and have-nots,” Mr. Nagin said. “This is imperative, not only for us, but for our kids and grandkids.”

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, many local firms complained that the main beneficiaries of large government contracts for emergency cleanup and recovery were out-of-state businesses and workers.

Mr. Nagin said his order should help ensure that local firms enjoy the benefits of the enormous federal rebuilding investment and help them secure small-business loans and other financing.

He said his order should not slow the rebuilding or send more businesses to adjacent parishes that don’t have similar requirements. “This is such a big pie. We just want to make sure this pie expands,” he said.

City workers will examine projects seeking incentives or tax breaks and determine reasonable goals for local and women- or minority-controlled companies, said Judith Williams, co-chairman of the mayor’s 100-day commission, established at the start of Mr. Nagin’s second term.

“We’re not looking to make it impossible for folks to do business here,” she said.

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