Magazine article Black Enterprise

Having Our Say at the White House: Outnumbered Minority Business Owners Aim for Lawmakers Recognition

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Having Our Say at the White House: Outnumbered Minority Business Owners Aim for Lawmakers Recognition

Article excerpt

Next month, Roy Hastic is going to Capitol Hill to win friends and influence people. Fearing that black businesses are losing out, Hastic's mission is clear: to make lawmakers aware that small black enterprises are a force to contend with.

Hastic, president of the 900-member Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce in Brooklyn, N.Y., will be part of a larger group participating in the White House Conference on Small Business to be held in Washington, June 11-15. The forum will be the launching pad for a comprehensive agenda addressing the needs of small business owners.

Over the last year, each state has held conferences to appoint delegates to the White House meeting. There will be 1,130 elected delegates and 589 delegates appointed by Congress. But the minority business community is worried that its voice will not be heard, since the majority of delegates are not people of color. Many feel further isolated since franchise companies have snagged a major portion of the delegate slots.

Hastic believes that black delegates should band together to form a political front. "We need to look at our recommendations as a minority business community. Even if it means getting there a few days before [the conference] to confer with each other," he suggests.

A number of major issues must be addressed, according to John Robinson, president of the National Minority Business Council in New York. In the forefront of the small black business owners' agenda, he emphasizes, should be increasing procurement and international trade opportunities, maintaining the inroads of affirmative-action policies and receiving financial support for employee education.

This is not the first administration to address the needs of the small business community. Two previous White House conferences on small business were held in 1980 and 1986. …

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