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NFL wants role for minority firms

Wanted: Minority-owned businesses to make money during Super Bowl XXV. In an effort to find more bay area businesses owned by blacks and other minorities, an official of the National Football League will meet with the Urban League of Tampa and other groups this week, said James Steeg, executive director of NFL special events.

David Cornwell, NFL assistant counsel who also is in charge of equal employment opportunity, will be in Tampa today and Friday, Steeg said. He said Cornwell, who has visited Tampa previously, will meet with Joanna Tokley, president of the Urban League.

Cornwell, who was traveling Wednesday, could not be reached for comment.

The NFL, seeking to do more work with minorities, has had trouble finding a substantial number and variety of such businesses in the bay area, Steeg said Wednesday.

Lists of bay area minority businesses provided to the NFL include vendors involved in catering and sales of novelty items. But Steeg said the NFL has been unable to find minorities who can qualify for other types of contracts.

"There are no black owners of hotels here," said Steeg, who listed other types of jobs the NFL is looking to fill, including limousine and bus services.

Also contributing to the problem, Steeg said, is that minorities often do not belong to chambers of commerce or other organizations that help them market their goods and services.

Minority businesses usually are "trying to hang on for survival" and can't afford to join those groups, said Tokley of the Urban League.

She said the Urban League has put together a list of more than 50 minority-owned businesses in the bay area, compiled in part from responses to advertising. The list includes businesses involved in fencing, catering, electrical work and commercial and industrial lighting.

But she said it is difficult to find blacks and other minorities involved in other, more lucrative businesses such as furniture and equipment rentals and garbage and waste disposal.

Minority participation in Super Bowl XXV has become a major issue. Earlier this year, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, an all-white, male organization, dropped plans to sponsor the Super Bowl parade when it was criticized for its exclusive membership.

In the wake of the controversy, leaders of Tampa black organizations have demanded that black-owned companies get 15 percent of the business available during Super Bowl XXV. Steeg said the NFL has not set a percentage of work that will go to minorities.

For further information, interested businesses should call the Urban League of Tampa, 229-8117.