Minority-Owned Businesses: A Look Ahead

By Winston, John R. | The National Public Accountant, July 1992 | Go to article overview

Minority-Owned Businesses: A Look Ahead


Winston, John R., The National Public Accountant


According to the 1987 census, between 1977 and 1987 the number of minority-owned firms increased dramatically. Asian American-owned firms increased 394%; Native American-owned firms 401%; Hispanic-owned firms 93% and Black-owned firms increased 84%. Cumulatively, these firms generated over $77 billion in gross receipts. These statistics correspond to over 1,213,570 minority-owned businesses which, in addition to providing salaries for over 300,000 proprietorships, provided paid employment for 836,000 people. The most important theme in the revitalization of the American economy is job creation.

As an example of how things would be if we were to truly utilize America's minorities, the state of Maryland prepared a "What-if" scenario for the commission to indicate on a one state basis what would happen if Maryland's minority-owned business were as big as the nation's non-minority-owned business.

We lead the world in productivity even though 20% of our population is not fully productive. As we said in our interim report, if we are able to transform an estimated 50 million people (20% of our population) consisting largely of minorities into a positive and contributing national resource, we can add hundreds of billions of dollars to our Gross National Product. At no other time in American history has the full utilization of all sectors of our economy been more relevant and vital.

To accomplish this feat and to keep America leading the world, the President and Congress must work hand in hand to establish and enforce policies which provide positive incentives to the public and the private sector. We propose solutions in this document and it is up to all of us to guarantee our future.

In most quarters of America, when the discussion in the media turns to the economy, the picture of doom and gloom permeates the landscape. The media continues to put forth the perception that America is rapidly losing its place as the leader of the world. However, according to Business Week, "America still remains the premier economic power, despite its indebtedness to the rest of the world, its trade and budget gaps, and its stark contrasts between rich and poor." In current dollars, U.S. Gross National Product totaled about $5.5 trillion for 1990. In absolute terms, the U.S. still leads the world in productivity.

We have taken bold steps with the Commission's final report. In the introduction alone we say that we did not prepare this report to "inspire neutrality." Indeed, we are certain that this document will bring forth charges that we are anarchists, that we are attempting to abolish Federal minority business development programs and that we are placing all existing minority business development programs in jeopardy. On the contrary, our mission is economic development and the full incorporation of an underutilized population into the mainstream of an economic system that will benefit all Americans. We fully acknowledge the failure of predecessor government programs while admitting that Federal programs are still necessary to create a level playing field. We also acknowledge the existence of business development entities created by the government which need to be reorganized or revitalized to achieve their original intent.

Following the swearing-in of members of the Commission on Minority Business Development at the White House in March 1990, we embarked upon a two-year mission to collect and synthesize as many views of a representative sample of the American people as possible. After 100 cities in 42 states, 500 witnesses and tens of thousands of pages of testimony, our final report does not purport to represent the absolute or ultimate statement on minority business development issues in America, for those issues are dynamic ones - but it does represent the opinions and input of a microcosm of the historically underutilized business community.

The findings and recommendations contained in the report could only have been ascertained through an independent review of government policies and practices, studies and reports, legislation and operating procedures. …

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