The U.S. economy’s roots in the free market require the participation of businesses of all sizes in order to achieve its greatest potential. This means to reach optimum market potential, the economy needs have participation from all its citizens – especially its minority populations.
Before the middle of the 20th century, the idea of minority involvement in small businesses was not embraced. Realizing the contribution of minority business to our national economic growth is one of the many ways to assess the success of a President’s economic policies.
President Nixon advocated minority business during his 1968 campaign stating, “We have to get private enterprise into the ghetto, but at the same time we have to get the people of the ghetto into private enterprise…as workers, as managers, as owners.”
In 1971, the Small Business Administration (SBA) made great progress towards of its goals—more than at any time in the agency’s history.
By 1971, “loans to minorities increased 24% in quantity and 31% in dollar volume to 8,387 loans for $231 million dollars”. Additionally, minority entrepreneurs were receiving 18% of SBA dollars as well as 35% of all SBA loans, compared to 10% of the dollars and 24% of the loans just three years before.
The most impressive statistic in the 1971 SBA report came from the 406 Grant Program. Minority firms received $2.3 million of the $3 million total allotment to the program, which represented a 33% increase over the previous year.
These numbers represent President Nixon’s intent to expand minority access to the American dream. Unfortunately, this growth has reversed recently. According to the Bloomberg News, “US government contracts to Black-and Hispanic-owned small businesses fell last year for the first time in a decade, declining at a sharper rate than awards to all companies”. Additionally, the Black Government Barometer showed that contracts to the Black-owned firms dropped eight percent in the 2010 fiscal year.
This Bloomberg report presented by Raynard Jackson, CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, and a member of the black business community is troubling to say the least. Financial stability in the minority community is critical to future freedoms.