Tapping Minority Business Is Good Business

Article excerpt

The words of the 1994 report from the Confluence St. Louis Minority Business Development Task Force need to be considered carefully:

"The St. Louis metropolitan area, like many others in the nation, is adapting to the economic realities of the 1990s and planning for the future. As part of this transition, the region is looking to attract new industries to the area and to develop the resources that already exist.

"One of our most promising - and relatively untapped - resources in the region that has the potential to generate wealth for the community, create jobs and increase productivity and competitiveness is minority entrepreneurship and business development. Other metropolitan areas are already tapping this resource and reaping the economic benefits of strong minority business development strategies." According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Census in 1987: Approximately 9 percent of all firms were minority-owned. These firms accounted for only 3.9 percent of the national gross receipts, or approximately $77.84 billion. In the St. Louis region that year: Thirteen percent of the 58,907 firms were minority-owned. Total sales and receipts generated were only 2.6 percent of the total sales and receipts for the region. Only 1,627 of the minority-owned companies had paid employees. Of the 1,186,102 people employed in the region in 1987, only 5,514 (or less that 1 percent) were employed by minority-owned firms. These statistics are significant because the minority population in the area, as well as throughout the nation, increased between 1980 and 1990; this trend is expected to continue. By the year 2000, the minority population in the United States is expected to approach 80 million. By 2010, minorities will account for a third of the nation's population. In 1988, Congress and the president ordered the Commission on Minority Business Development to "review and conduct an assessment of the operations of all federal programs intended to promote and foster the devel opment of minority-owned businesses to ascertain whether the purpose and objectives of such programs were being realized." The commission's mission was economic development and the full incorporation of the knowledge, skills and abilities of minority in dividuals into the economic system so that all of America and all of its people might benefit. The commission's final report characterized minority-owned firms as "historical underutilized businesses," and described this inattention to an important economic development resource as "a squander of talent and energy that we can ill afford." The October 1994 report by the Confluence St. …