In recognition of Earth Day on April 22nd, I wanted to talk to you about conservation and our efforts to create environmental jobs and promote green technology.
Conservation means making sure the limited resources we use to power our homes and car and produce materials are used more responsibly. It means maximizing efficiencies and doing more with less—areas in which minority-owned businesses excel. Thankfully, while we may have a finite amount of coal or oil, our entrepreneurial capacity is infinite. Our transition toward a more sustainable system provides countless opportunities for innovation in green industries.
Green is also the color of money, and what’s good for the environment is good for the economy. Working towards environmental sustainability creates news jobs, new markets, and new industries. Minority-owned businesses can find excellent opportunities retrofitting houses and offices to be more energy efficient, constructing wind turbines, providing green recycling and disposal services, and more.
In honor of Women’s History Month and in recognition of the new statistics on firms owned by American Indians and Alaskan Natives, this edition of MBDA’s newsletter features an inspiring storing about Sister Sky—a firm owned and operated by two sisters from the Spokane tribe in Eastern Washington. As I travel around the country, I am in awe of the innovation, tenacity, and the indomitable spirit of minority business owners and their unwillingness to quit in the face of overwhelming odds. That’s the spirit that makes America great.
With the release the 2007 Survey of Business Owners data by the Census Bureau and MBDA’s American Indian and Alaskan Native Business Fact Sheet, we have evidence that there was growth in the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native-owned firms since 2002. Yet, job creation by these firms has not materialized and the average gross receipts of American Indian and Alaskan Native-owned firms ($145,000) are significantly below average compared to non-minority firms ($490,000).
Still, of the 237,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native-owned firms that generate more than $34.0 billion in gross receipts, there are more than 4,600 that produce $1.0 million dollars or more in revenue. These firms combined generated gross receipts of $23 billion and employed 116,759 workers. Clearly, there is an upside to building your firm to size, scale and capacity. Sister Sky, along with their commitment to creating jobs on the Spokane reservation, and with the support of MBDA and other federal partners, is headed in the right direction.
Since last July, MBDA and the U.S. Census Bureau have been releasing data from the 2007 Survey of Business Owners describing details about the minority business community. So far we have produced fact sheets on all minority businesses, Hispanic businesses and this month, Black History Month, we release the African American business fact sheet .
The good news is that the number of African American-owned firms increased by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million firms. Employment at these firms also grew 22 percent from 754,000 to 921,000. The rate of employment growth is significantly higher than that of non-minority-owned firms which grew employment at a rate of less than one percent during the same time.
But the true economic potential of African American firms is not being unrealized. While gross receipts for all minority-owned firms are still well below the $490,000 average gross receipts for non-minority-owned firms in 2007, the average gross receipts for African American-owned firms actually fell 3 percent from $74,000 per firm to $72,000 between 2002 and 2007. The reasons for this discrepancy vary, but in essence it comes down to access to capital, access to contracts and access to new markets.
As I travel around the country, I am in awe of the tenacity and the indomitable spirit of minority business owners and their unwillingness to quit in the face of overwhelming odds. That’s the spirit that makes America great.
As the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), I am proud to be a part of this Administration and a part of an Agency where our work helps to expand the U.S. economy and create new jobs through the historically underutilized minority business community.
I have the privilege of serving on the senior staff of the Secretary of Commerce and serving as Bureau Chief of MBDA, as well as engaging with various stakeholders, members of Congress, minority-owned and operated businesses, and nonprofit organizations that support minority business development across the nation.
MBDA is a national organization with more than 46 business centers in five regions, which generates nearly $4 billion in contracts and capital for minority-owned businesses. We also create thousands of jobs for all Americans and help save thousands of existing jobs.
As I begin my second full year leading the Minority Business Development Agency, I want to take a moment to express how honored I am to work with the Agency’s network of minority business centers and our public and private sector partners on behalf of the minority business community. Minority-owned firms continue to grow and flourish despite tough economic conditions.