Our small business sector is vibrant and strong because of the dreamers who live here in America . And the job of government is to inspire, is to help. --President George W. Bush, July 9, 2004
President Bush on July 23, 2004 announced a new initiative to expand business ownership and entrepreneurship among minorities. The Administration will undertake a unique association with the National Urban League (NUL) to create an entrepreneurship network. Supported by the Business Roundtable and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the NUL network will include one-stop centers for business training, counseling, financing, and contracting.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and other Federal entities will combine their resources to help NUL local offices provide sustainable outreach and incubation of minority enterprise.
The NUL is a non-profit, nonpartisan, civil rights and community-based movement that serves over 2 million people, providing services, research and policy advocacy to help individuals and communities reach their fullest potential. Primarily working with African-American communities, its 105 professionally staffed affiliates located in 35 states work to close equality gaps at all economic levels and stages of life, and offer recipients a chance to give back as volunteers.
Background on Today's Presidential Action
The economic recovery is strong, and over 1.5 million new jobs have been added since last August. And President Bush continues to promote pro-growth policies to strengthen our economy, and to take actions that will expand opportunities for jobs and ownership.
Under the new initiative, the Bush Administration together with private sector, non-profit, and community and faith-based organizations will focus talent, expertise, and other resources toward facilitating economic growth and enterprise in historically neglected areas. This initiative from basic financial literacy through management counseling will cover the spectrum of needs, including instruction, mentoring, business coaching, finance, and contract negotiation.
The Bush Administration, working hand in hand with the National Urban League, will:
Assist in establishing business growth centers in NUL local offices throughout the U.S. ;
Provide formal evaluation tools for tailoring assistance to clients;
Promote Internet-based instruction, information, contacts, and networks;
Provide mentoring and advice by experienced executives, managers, and academics;
Facilitate access to funding available from Federal government programs and the private sector; and
Provide opportunities to compete for Federal and private sector contracts.
The National Urban League will equip up to fifteen local affiliates for the pilot phase of the initiative, from which the initiative will be broadened throughout the NUL's network of 105 local affiliates.
The Business Roundtable's BusinessLINC program will offer contracting opportunities with private firms, impress private sector standards of performance, and provide other support for the work of the NUL centers.
The program will be supported and guided by experts at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation , a national leader in entrepreneurial development.
The initiative will also be supported by other private sector, non-profit, and community and faith-based organizations and individuals who are dedicated to promoting business ownership and entrepreneurship among minorities.
Highlights of the President's Continuing Agenda for Minority Economic Empowerment
New Markets Tax Credits for Minority Business: Since this program began last year, millions of dollars have aided minority business development. Treasury Secretary Snow recently announced an award of $127 million in tax credits for equity and debt financing of businesses in low-income areas. With part of a major New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) award for business finance, the National Urban League will provide financial counseling in underserved areas.
Minority Home Ownership Initiative: Minority homeownership is at an all-time high. In June 2002, the President announced the goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families before the end of the decade. The Census estimates an increase of 1.54 million minority homeowners since the President launched his initiative. The President signed the American Dream Downpayment Act into law, which will help an additional 40,000 low-income families each year own homes. In his FY 2005 budget, President Bush proposed the Zero-Downpayment Initiative for Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured single-family mortgages for first-time homebuyers.
Minority-Serving Institutions: The President strongly supports the work and mission of America 's minority-serving institutions as they seek to empower students with the skills they need to succeed and compete for the high-demand jobs of the 21st Century. The Bush Administration has increased funding for minority-serving institutions by 30 percent over four years, with funding increasing for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Historically Black Graduate Institutions, and Hispanic-serving Institutions from $298.5 million in FY 2001 to a requested $395 million in the FY 2005 budget.
SBA Financing Record: Last year SBA business loans for minorities increased by 40% and for African-Americans by 75%. The record numbers of loans will likely be exceeded this year.
Federal Procurement for Small Disadvantaged Business: Through contract unbundling and procurement initiatives, the Bush Administration has expanded opportunities for minority businesses to compete for Federal contracts.
Support for MBDA: The President's 2005 budget requests a 21% increase for the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)the largest in more than a decade.
Africa Trade: MBDA and SBA initiatives are introducing more minority firms to export opportunities, and creating business linkages with Africa . With the President's recent signing of the African Growth and Opportunity Acceleration Act of 2004, jobs, investments, exports, and opportunities are expanding for Africans and Americans alike.