Langston University's School of Business has proved to be not
only an education source for young African-American students
planning a business career, but also a source of information and
assistance to those already in the workforce.
Langston is the headquarters for the National Institute for
the Study of Minority Enterprise, a think tank created in 1990
after nine years of research on minority enterprise, according to
Dr. Calvin Hall, dean of the business school at Langston.
The institute acts as a clearinghouse of information on
minority business which it shares by computer with other
colleges, like the University of Georgia in Athens and Alabama
State University in Montgomery. It also serves as an umbrella
organization under which operate some other some entities on
campus, such as the Small Business Development Center and the
Center for Telecommunications.
Langston is one of only three Historically Black Colleges and
Universities in the country to have a Small Business Development
Center. Among the center's activities are research on minority
enterprise, technical assistance and information on international
trade, finance, joint ventures, acquisitions and mergers.
Things have changed considerably since the early 20th century,
when Tulsa was known as "Black Wall Street" for its large number
of black-owned firms and strong minority business community.
Robert Allen, director of the Small Business Development Center,
said a recent U.S. Department of Commerce study placed Oklahoma
at 41 out of the 50 states for number of black businesses. There
are approximately 3,500 African-American owned firms in the
state, he said.
Minority companies today are plagued with many of the same
problems which have always faced them, Allen said, such as a lack
of access to capital _ particularly for smaller firms which may
need a smaller loan than traditional financial institutions
normally handle _ as well as racism and being judged by a
different set of rules than those applied to white businesses.
Those problems have escalated, though, as the scope of
business becomes more international every day, he said. In
today's desegregated society, African-American firms are having
to compete not only with white businesses or other minority
businesses in the U.S., but with companies abroad as well.
Yet, Allen emphasized that the center doesn't merely identify
obstacles facing minority businesses, it gives assistance in ways
to overcome those obstacles. …