By: Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia NAACP, for The Philadelphia Tribune
As the city of Philadelphia works to finalize a franchise renewal with Comcast, citizens have been urged to speak out to ensure the best possible deal. This NAACP is in support of this process. Both negotiations and the final agreement should be transparent and fair.
We know that Comcast makes a huge financial impact in Philadelphia and also makes a difference in the workforce. Comcast could boast in its recruiting, development, and promotion of the diverse talent in our city. Comcast acting as a community partner has advanced many people of color into management positions through its leadership development programs.
Entrepreneurs know all too well the unique set of challenges faced by business owners in Philadelphia. To that end, Comcast has recognized those challenges and makes the effort to seek minority contractors, sub-contractors and vendors through its diverse supplier program. Indeed dozens of minority-owned vendors currently do business with Comcast.
Many minority start- up businesses have benefited also from Comcast Corporation. As part of its franchise agreement to the city, Comcast through its revolving fund for minority–and-women owned business has supplied several entrepreneurs with the needed capital to participate in the economic life of the city. The fund loans range from $10,000 to $700,000 causing business to both open and thrive.
Perhaps the crowning contribution which we at the NAACP call the largest nationwide experiment to close the great digital divide is Internet Essentials. This program provides low cost Internet service and equipment along with free digital literacy training for families in need. This initiative which began 4 years ago at a time that 40 percent of Philadelphia households had no internet connection, has now brought the connection to 10,700 homes and 1,000 plus families have taken digital literacy training.
Many young men and women can be seen, reporting from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. as members of the Comcast workforce bringing well above minimum wage income to their homes and families. Notwithstanding I have experienced a broad range of community initiatives supported by the company.
Honey bees would never consider extracting nectar from the flower bloom without leaving pollen to ensure the life and progress of the flower. They demonstrate good economic exchange where it receives but also gives back. Employment and management opportunities, capital funding, low cost Internet, all from a company that makes big financial impact, is Comcast giving back to ensure the economic life of the city. The flower welcomes the honey bee’s presence and we, sighting opportunity over challenge, welcome the presence of Comcast NBC Universal.