Back in February, President Barack Obama told Black Enterprise he was committed to “making sure goals are set that ensure participation of every type of business imaginable” in his economic recovery plan. But studies show minority business enterprises have been shoved aside from Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington.
Community leaders are demanding an explanation and they are entitled to one. The stimulus package money comes from taxpayers and the banks are not assuming any risk at all with these loans, so the government should ensure that access to the program is equitable. It may have been smarter to have granted the loans directly through the Small Business Administration (SBA) rather than through the banks, which tend not to want to disclose how and why the make their decisions, even when they receive taxpayer assistance.
The program must be reviewed and measures must be implemented to facilitate access for minorities who, in many cases, are the main economic pillars of their communities.
In a New Year’s Day op-ed in the Philadelphia Tribune, my colleague, Della Clark of The Enterprise Center, noted that cash-strapped minority businesses cannot compete against primes who are also trying to keep their businesses afloat.
In these tough economic times, competition for ARRA-funded contracts is fierce. But disadvantaged businesses cannot compete against prime contractors who are submitting low bids to weather the economic storm.
Sure, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell signed an executive order establishing an “aspirational goal” that at least ten percent of ARRA opportunities should go to disadvantaged businesses. But Della is not sitting around hoping for change. Instead, she is mobilizing minority entrepreneurs in an effort to remove systemic barriers to participation.
For this indefatigable visionary, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line:
In speaking truth to empower, the Coalition to Empower Minority Business Enterprises can change the culture in procurement offices across the commonwealth. In doing so, minority entrepreneurs will be better positioned to grow their business, create sustainable jobs and contribute to the economic recovery of Pennsylvania.If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, then resolve to do something. To get involved with the MBE Coalition, send an email here.