Affirmative Action and Black Entrepreneurship

By Thomas D. Boston | Go to book overview
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INTRODUCTION

The number of black-owned businesses is increasing at twice the rate of all small businesses in the United States. Between 1982 and 1992, the latest period for which census of minority business data are available, black-owned businesses increased by 7.3 percent annually and their employment capacity grew by 11 percent annually. Even though they account for just 3.6 percent of all small firms and 1 percent of small business revenue, their growth trend is impressive. Assuming the current growth rate can be sustained through the first decade of the next century, black-owned businesses will number well over 2 million.

Today, these businesses have an employment capacity that is equivalent to about 3 percent of the black workforce, but if they can sustain their current growth rate, by the year 2010 they will have an employment capacity large enough to accommodate 12 to 17 percent of the 2010 black workforce. Of course, this assumes that future conditions will be similar to present conditions. But present conditions are changing rapidly and one significant development that will likely slow the growth of black-owned businesses is the demise of affirmative action programs for minority-owned businesses.

This book examines the growth and changing profile of blackowned businesses. In the process, it demonstrates the importance of minority procurement programs in creating opportunities for market entry, diversification and growth. By allowing black entrepreneurs to break out of personal service and retail activities and to enter dynamically growing industries, these programs helped catalyze the growth of a second generation of black-owned businesses. Atlanta is used as a case study, but this book’s lessons are applicable nationwide.

In 1975 Atlanta established the country’s first minority business affirmative action plan at the local level. Its significance resided in

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