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The Collaborative is a group of small business owners who share a common purpose: the acquisition of economic parity and equity for all local, small and disadvantaged businesses in the city of New Orleans. We believe that access to business opportunities is vital to growing a stable and sustainable minority business class in New Orleans - a business class that in itself is vital to the stability and sustainability of the local economy at large. We are about creating a culture of wealth for communities of color. If you can't say it, you can't do it!


On February 29, 2012 a call went out, much like a clarion call, to small and DBE business owners in New Orleans, to have a conversation about the billions of anticipated dollars in contract opportunities coming into this market; and several came. And as the conversations continued, everyone began to realize that there was a common thread interwoven among us, no matter the type or years in business, it was the lack of economic parity and equity especially with procurement opportunities.


You've heard it time and time again, what some consider just a cliche', that "The state of the national, state, and local economies, rest on the shoulders of small businesses". Well, for us, what a major expectation void of any meaningful and consistent support.So the mantra became, let's get economic equity and parity for all New Orleans small & dbe business owners. Now with one voice, this was our vision. And since we understood that vision without execution is nothing more than a hallucination, we focused our efforts on policy with a purpose, so that the rising tide of economic parity and equity CAN LIFT US ALL.


Well, the one who made the call is Barbara Major...... Those who answered are now known as "The Collaborative".


The Collaborative is a group of New Orleans area business owners and community members who first came together in March 2012 to address the extreme racial inequities surrounding the awarding of billions of dollars in public contracts earmarked for the rebuilding of New Orleans’ civic, educational, and health care infrastructures in the years following Hurricane Katrina.


The Collaborative spent its first year in existence working with New Orleans City Council Member Cynthia Hedge Morrell and the City's Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD) to replace ineffectual laws regarding Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) with a strong Ordinance that does not simply encourage equity in public contracting, but demands it. This Ordinance was passed by the unanimously by the City Council and signed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu on June 21, 2013.


Despite a common misperception, the new DBE law does not mandate the participation of minority-owned firms on public jobs. Rather, what it does, in compliance with federal law, is allows the OSD to create a race and gender neutral program to support small economically disadvantaged businesses by attaching a 35% DBE goal to public contracts.


The Collaborative has followed this success by continuing to engage public officials, governmental entities, and civic organizations at the local, state, and national levels to advocate effectively for public policies that help the small, local, minority and economically disadvantaged businesses compete in a region where connected corporations and good old boy networks continue to stifle small business growth.


In addition, the Collaborative works to connect its members and other small businesses to the people, capital, partners, and information that can help them succeed. Speakers at our meetings have included representatives of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development, The City of New Orleans Office of Supplier Diversity, the New Orleans Business Alliance, and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. For the past two local election cycles the Collaborative has organized successful Candidate Forums that specifically addressed questions of equitable economic development and small business participation.


Going forward, the Collaborative seeks to build alliances beyond the New Orleans region in order to help small businesses across the state compete and grow in a highly competitive and inequitable business environment.


March 12, 2012

The Collaborative was formed

April 1, 2015

The Collaborative's DBE ordinance is added to the City Charter

October 15, 2015

After months of advocating by The Collaborative, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that he planned to fund a study of racial disparities

June 25, 2016

The Collaborative held the second annual Spirit of Collaboration Awards at the People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market

January 28, 2021

The New Orleans City Council votes unanimously to update and refine DBE provisions in Chapter 70, Article IV, Division 2 of the Code of the City of New Orleans

June 20, 2013

After a year of effort by The Collaborative, Ordinance No. 25369, a law strengthening the City’s DBE Program, was approved unanimously by the City Council

June 27, 2015

The Collaborative held the first annual Spirit of Collaboration Awards at the Carver Theatre

December 15, 2015

New Orleans City Council approved Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s request for $500,000 for a study to examine economic and racial disparities in City contracting

May 7, 2019

Final City of New Orleans 2018 Disparity Study findings presented to the City Council's Economic Development Committee

August 18, 2022

Councilmember At-Large Helena Moreno and the New Orleans City Council issues a Proclamation honoring The Collaborative's 10 years of work 

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