A flurry of activity in state houses around the nation is bringing a new dynamic to public policy supporting African-American businesses because they provide jobs where they are most needed, according to Where’s Our Stimulus: State of Black Business, seventh edition.
• Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s announcement last month that $84 million had been spent from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds with minority businesses
• Texas’ report of spending $1.4 billion with historically underutilized businesses (HUBS)
• Iowa and Wisconsin exceeding their goals to contract with targeted small businesses.
“This was my objective when I commissioned the first State of Black Business report,” says Frederick E. Jordan, P.E., co-founder of National Black Business Month each August. “In the absence of data, we were an afterthought for policy makers.”
Where’s Our Stimulus, written by John William Templeton, executive editor of blackmoney.com and co-founder of National Black Business Month, is the seventh annual report which provides the most current information state by state, along with an analysis of the national environment for African-American firms. The first report, in 2004, called for the kind of real-time data on black entrepreneurship which can be obtained for exports, employment and stock trading.
National Black Business Month in August 2010 is the seventh observance to raise the profile of the more than 1 million African-American businesses.
Where’s Our Stimulus reports that 18 states (see following list) achieved at least adequate scores on the nine key factors for black business success.
The report utilizes new data from the Federal Procurement Data System, which captures up-to-date performance for contracting through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Only $618 million has gone to 1,339 contracts with black-owned firms through the end of April.
That information undoubtedly led to the April 25 memorandum from the White House creating a task force on contracting opportunities with a mandate to complete a report in 120 days.
Accountability among state governments has shown results. Over the 10 years of data tracked in Where’s Our Stimulus, Florida has doubled the number of black-owned firms. It has ranked high for each of the eight key factors for black business growth developed over the course of the seven reports.
Author Templeton suggests that civic leaders must begin to approach black-owned businesses the same way they practice economic development for relocating firms – to assemble all the factors for success, rather than forcing potential entrepreneurs to run a gauntlet of barriers.
The release of the report begins a season of preparation for the seventh National Black Business Month. The idea of visiting at least one black-owned firm each day of August has crystallized into 31 Ways, 31 Days.
With $1 trillion in income among African-American consumers alone, more traffic for black-owned firms is an important way of providing stimulus within black neighborhoods.
Where’s Our Stimulus notes that just two percent of black spending, could create 42,000 jobs during August, and almost a half million if extended over the course of the year.
“This is what it’s all about, creating jobs,” says Dr. Robert Spooney, president of the Central Florida Black Chamber of Commerce in Orlando, FL.
Leading the observance will be state and local host organizations with state goals for increasing the revenue to black-owned firms. Recommended activities include the Catapulting Innovation Competition and Black Entrepreneurs University.
Blackbird, the African-American browser, is hosting the innovation competition and providing local start pages to communities which embrace National Black Business Month to give their businesses a easy portal for customers to find them. This week, it unveiled local start pages from Oakland and Los Angeles.
Vidaroo, the online video software firm led by digital cinema patent holder Mary Spio, is providing the technology for the online Black Entrepreneurs University.
Dr. Carlton Robinson, president of the First Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce in Jacksonville, FL and a BEU facilitator, says, “This is a game changer. We
will be able to dramatically change the image of black-owned businesses through National Black Business Month.”
At blackbusinessmonth.com, a list of 31 suggested ways to patronize black business is provided for consumers and institutions is provided.
APPENDICES Rating of states on the Black Business Affinity Index in Where’s Our Stimulus: State of Black Business, seventh edition and 31 Ways, 31 Days
2. New York
5. Tied for fifth. Ohio
5 Tied for fifth Virginia
7 Tied for seventh. Arkansas
7 Tied for seventh Tennessee
7 Tied for seventh Indiana
10 North Carolina
10 District of Columbia
10 South Carolina