The Wall Street Project kicks off today in New York City. This year’s theme, “Targeted Stimulus: A Call to Equity and Parity,” is on target.
From Day One, I’ve been tracking and visualizing the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on minority business enterprises. The hope that stimulus spending would create new opportunities has been dashed. MBEs have been marginalized and shoved aside.
I listened with keen interest to Austan Goolsbee, staff director and chief economist on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, during his recent appearance on TV One’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin.”
Roland questioned Goolsbee about the lack of stimulus contracts awarded to minority business enterprises:
MR. GOOLSBEE: I agree with that, and I would say two things about it. The first is the data varies by state. Some states are hitting it. On – as an overall target, the share of the contracts going to small business and to disadvantaged economic groups have [sic] been at or above the targets on an overall basis, but it hasn’t been enough, and you saw Secretary of Transportation – Secretary LaHood – send a letter out to all the governors, instructing them, “Look, we want you to break some of these big contracts up into smaller pieces to give more opportunity to small businesses to bid on these contracts,” ‘cause if the contract’s for a billion dollars, small –
MR. MARTIN: Precisely.
MR. GOOLSBEE: -- business can’t do it. And so y- -- I think you have seen that. That’s an area of concern, but I think you’ve seen some progress in that. **And as I say, the first wave of the Recovery Act tended to concentrate more on getting the tax cuts out, where they cut taxes for 95 percent of workers. Some of the incent- -- money to – to the state governments and some of the incentives. And now in this second wave, you’re seeing a lot of the construction projects and infrastructure; and so, you know, I’m kind of hopeful that it’s going to be -- there’s going to be some – some in that.
That’s it. The Obama administration is “hopeful” implementation of infrastructure and construction projects will be fair and equitable.
During the Wall Street Project’s press conference, I plan to ask the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. whether he’s keeping hope alive rather than agitating for inclusive policies and innovative strategies.
For info about the Wall Street Project 2010, go here.