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Let’s help minority-owned small businesses grow


Last month, the Census Bureau reported that the number of minority-owned businesses increased by 46 percent from 2002 to 2007. This is good news. These new businesses are creating jobs and driving local economic growth all across the country.

However, this is no time to lessen our commitment or resources available to help minority small businesses grow and create jobs.

At the Small Business Administration, we are leveraging our three core mission areas-access to capital, opportunities in federal contracting, and business counseling-to build on the growth we’ve seen in minority business ownership.

Minority-owned firms struggle with access to capital, and when they do receive a loan, it is often too small, or the interest is too high. That’s why the SBA is three to five times more likely to make a loan to a minority-owned small business than a conventional bank is, according to the Urban Institute.

Moreover, enhancements made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 have helped the SBA provide support for more than 14,000 recovery loans, worth $5 billion, to minority-owned small firms. President Barack Obama has called on Congress to extend funding for these successful Recovery Act loan programs, which ran out several weeks ago, resulting in a 60 percent drop in SBA lending. Lenders and small business owners also have been clear: Now is not the time to pull back.

The Recovery Act also has been a critical tool in helping minority-owned small firms compete for and win federal contracts. Already, billions of dollars in Recovery Act contracts have been awarded to socially and economically disadvantaged firms that participate in the SBA’s 8(a) program. Meanwhile, the SBA and its resource partners train and counsel hundreds of thousands of minority business owners each year.

Throughout the month of August, minority business owners can learn about the tools and resources available to them at Minority Enterprise Development Week events across the country. At MED Week events in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., minority business owners can network, learn from each other, and find out ways to grow their business and create jobs. (For more information on attending the MED Week Conference, Aug. 25-27, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., or on other MED Week events, visit www.medweek.gov.)

As one of the fastest-growing segments of the small business community, minority-owned businesses are key to the strength of our economy and our global competitiveness. From loans to contracting to counseling and business development, the SBA will work to ensure that minority-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs continue to have the tools to grow, drive our economy, and create jobs.

Marie Johns is deputy administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

8/20/10 (c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

One comment

  1. Why do race, ethnicity, and sex need to be considered at all in deciding who gets awarded a contract or can participate in an SBA program? I’m sure that many minority-owned companies face the hurdles described in this article, but many do not and many nonminority-owend companies do.

    It’s fine to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either whether it’s labeled a “set-aside,” a “quota” or a “goal,” since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive it costs the taxpayers money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder, and it’s almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981 and this model brief: http://community.pacificlegal.org/Page.aspx?pid=1342 ).

    Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.

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