OEC to give away $48,000 in stagnant funds; 32 groups identified

If you have a business or non-profit organization that needs a little extra cash, there may be still time for you to cash in on a $48,000 give-a-way of hard cash by a now-defunct organization, especially if you are friends of the mayor.

The Ouachita Enterprise Community, headed by Dr. Gene Tarver has $48,000 leftover from funds that have been sitting mostly idle for over 20 years. However, recently Dr. Tarver sent an email to Mayor Mayo and others containing a list of 14 non-profit organizations and 18 businesses that he recommends to get a share of the $48,000 give-a-way, many of whom are connected to Mayor’s re-election campaign.

The memo indicated the organization and businesses and the person making the recommendation in parentheses.

The memo from Tarver said, “It is my recommendation that OEC disburse remaining funds as shown below: Non-profits and other worthy community organizations in the amount of $1,500 to include: Ouachita Industrial Corporation (Mayor), NOVA (Mayor), Renewal, Inc. (Mayor), 1900 Club (Gene), YMCA (Mayor), Ronald McDonald House (Gene), Firehouse Subs (Mayor), Well Spring (Formerly YWCA, Gene), Johnny Robinson Boys Home (Gene), African-American-Museum (Mayor), Life Changes (Mayor), ULM Incubator (Gene), Big Boys Powell (Mayor), K-9 Outreach, Inc. (Mayor);

Small businesses/Southside Monroe to include: ShawNuff Bar-B-Q (Mayor), Big Momma’s Fine Foods (Mayor), Bear’s Towing and Wrecker Service (Gene), The Monroe Dispatch (Mayor), Best Buy (Mayor), King of Wings, (Mayor), Southern Mixing Pot (Mayor), Bonecrusher (Mayor), Krayven’s (Mayor), Chisley’s (Mayor), Pharmacy Shoppe (Mayor), Ron’s Cajun Boudin (Mayor), Janet Floyd Law Firm (Mayor) Dazzle Dance (Mayor), Carolyn’s Dance (Mayor), Fit4Life (Mayor), Bruscato (John) Law Firm (Gene).

The funds have not been disbursed yet, but since there were no applications accepted for qualifications established for the $1,500 grants, there may still be time for interested groups to get in on $48,000 give-a-way.

In May of 2020, Tarver sent a memo to members of the OEC executive board announcing plans to spend all of the board’s remaining money. Tarver’s May Memo said: “I feel OEC should phase out. We have (sic) little over $50,000 in our bank account. We have sold office building.(sic). We have pursued some very important goals and benchmarks. I propose we provide remaining funds to two (2) groups in OEC zone (census tracts): Non-profit and small businesses. Also, we provide $1,500 to each entity we designate. If this is acceptable, please prepare a list of your recommendations for inclusion in the two (2) groups. Again, than you your (sic) service on OEX (sic) Executive Board. Look forward to hearing from you.”

The OEC began in the 1990s as a vehicle to help solicit and receive funds to enhance South Monroe with respect to housing redevelopment and eradication of poverty.

It’s creation came in the aftermath of a struggle between two groups, one formed in the black community led by Perry Thomas another led by Northside interests. The struggle was about control of proposed $600 million community enhancement grant that the Clinton Administration doled out to communities across the nation with high poverty.

The effort to initiate the funds for the Monroe area was led by then-Senator Charles Jones who had practically secured the funds for Monroe and even met with President Clinton.

The package crumbled when infighting over control of the funds resulted in a 60-day assault on Jones in the News star in which he was accused of seeking the funds for himself.

Monroe did not get the $600 million designation, but received a much smaller amount. The group led by Black community leaders were nudged out and OEC was left standing, with Tarver among its leaders.

The group purchased an OEC building which it sold, but has done very little with its funds since. The $48,000 give-a-way will effectively close the books on that chapter of Monroe Black History.