A front page story . . . reports the machinations and political logrolling by Ersal Ozdemir, a politically connected businessman, who’s used his connections to garner millions in tax benefits and subsidies for a variety of projects throughout Indianapolis. . . .
But what makes the deals of Ozdemir and his main business Keystone Construction of great interest to our African-American community is that his business has been certified as a minority-owned business by both the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana.
Just one problem – Ozdemir isn’t a minority, based upon the commonly accepted definitions of minority-owned businesses (MBE).
Ozdemir is a native of Mersin, Turkey, a town on the Mediterrean Sea. . . .Under existing laws, individuals from Turkey aren’t considered one of the minority groups — Black/African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian, defined by the feds, state and city. . . .
Ozdemir appealed saying that because Turkey is located both in Europe and Asia; he should be considered “Asian” and thus a minority. According to geography, Ozdemir’s homeowtown is in the part of Turkey that’s in Asia. But, according to geography, so are nations close by, including Cyprus, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel.
But, the federal government strongly disagrees. The feds say persons from Odzemir’s native land are considered as whites: “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.” . . .
Several sources who have years of experience working with minority-owned business issues, told me they were puzzled as to why the city classified Ozdemir and Keystone as an “Asian” minority-owned business. They can’t remember any instance where a businessperson from Turkey or neighboring nations in what’s described as the Asia Minor Region have been classified as an MBE.
The National Minority Development Supplier Council, which works with minority-owned businesses, doesn’t recognize businesses owned by individuals of Turkish origin. . . .
Worse, classifying Keystone Construction as an Asian-owned business is a slap in the face to the many legitimate businesses owned by true Asian residents of Indianapolis. . . .
Ozdemir is a smart, cunning businessman. He didn’t need to bend and break the MBE rules in order to succeed. The fact that he did and that the administrations of former [Indiana] Gov. Mitch Daniels and [Indianapolis] Mayor Ballard perverted the rules to let him do so, demonstrates that we may have reached a point, unfortunately, where the MBE programs in Indiana and Indianapolis may have become corrupt and worthless!