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Public Statements

Congresswoman Beatty Discusses the Importance of African American Small Business Owners

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

This week, Congresswoman Beatty took to the House floor to discuss minority entrepreneurship's important impact on our country. The Congresswoman's remarks as delivered are below.

"I rise this evening to discuss a very important topic to me, a topic that is important to me, to my district and to this Nation: why entrepreneurship matters to Black America.

This week, we celebrate National Small Business Week, which gives us a chance to collectively recognize small businesses and the impact they have and have had on our local communities and the Nation.

Tonight you will hear a lot about African Americans who started from humble means; African Americans who had great ideas and decided that they wanted to open a beauty shop, a barbershop, maybe a bakery or like my husband's family, a family restaurant. We'll hear the stories about how they became
millionaires and billionaires.

We've heard about Madam C.J. Walker who started with a small idea and became the first African American female millionaire. Then we all know about the young lady in the State next to mine that grew up and wanted to be a radio announcer, and probably 50 some years ago she had no idea that she'd be one of America's billionaires. And that's Oprah Winfrey. So today is so important to us not only as members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but it's important to us as a Nation that we recognize those who spur the economy.

So often we think that it is large industrial operations that make up the businesses in this wonderful country. But if you thought about where half of this Nation works, they work in small businesses, they own small businesses.

You see, small business in America has been the stabling force in the economy. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of creativity and production. Small business is what stimulates economic growth. With over 60 percent of all private sector nonfarm jobs coming from small businesses, it is a proven fact that small businesses are critical to the United States' economy.

Minority-owned businesses are also very important to the economy. The strong growth in owner income and decrease in the amount of companies going bankrupt is a great sign. Self-employment figures are also growing in this Nation.

As a matter of fact, in the last year alone, small businesses created nearly 700,000 jobs, accounting for 40 percent of employment gains across companies of all sizes. You see, I know firsthand the value of being a small business owner because for the past 20 years, I have been a small business owner. My husband is a small business owner, and we have been able to employ a diverse group of employees right in Columbus, Ohio, providing our employees with stable wages and the opportunity for professional
development.

For minority communities, small businesses are often the primary economic drivers by employing those who are seniors, those who are unemployed, those who live right in the neighborhood or have had some financial or workforce development challenges.

This is why we are here today and why it is so important in minority communities for the Small Business Administration to continue to develop programs which help minority small business owners break through the many barriers that prevent them from entering into the business community. But more can be done and more should be done to help support minority businesses because in addition to the many economic benefits they provide, small businesses also foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

As a member of the Financial Services Committee, I was pleased to learn that tucked within that broad package of financial industry reforms contained in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and the Consumer Protection Act law is a provision that mandates that each covered governmental agency establish an office of minority and women inclusion.

The Office of Minority and Women Inclusion directors must develop and implement standards and procedures to ensure to the maximum extent possible the fair and inclusion utilization of minorities, women and minority-and women-owned businesses in all business activities of all levels in the agencies, including procurement, insurance, and all other types of contracts.

So what I've decided to do is to host a roundtable discussion with small and minority women-owned businesses through the leadership of our ranking member on Financial Services, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. I'm also so pleased that so many organizations like Black Enterprise recently partnered with Nationwide Insurance to hold its 2013 entrepreneurs conference right in my district in Columbus, Ohio, this past May. This conference provided a great platform for African American entrepreneurs
to share ideas, to be able to network, and to grow their businesses among some 1,200 participants. We also honored African American entrepreneurs who own some of the best small businesses in the country.

I think it's also important for us to know, as in my home State and many other States, small business owners can take advantage of SBA programs. In my district, too, the Ohio Mini-Loan Guarantee program provides guarantees or fixed assets for small businesses for projects of $100,000 or less. Also, there is a mini-direct loan program, which provides direct loans for businesses that are going to locate in Ohio or that want to expand their business to demonstrate that they can create new ideas and new jobs for Ohioans.

It is very clear to me that small businesses will continue to grow and they will grow our economy at a proven rate. While effective programs exist today to help minority-owned small businesses, I believe we can continue to do more. I believe that's why my colleagues are here today, allowing us the opportunity to come and tell our stories, because it educates the public, it makes a difference, and that's why I am here.

I thank you so very much for allowing me the opportunity to come and talk about small businesses and more importantly to talk about small businesses that are owned by women and that are owned by African Americans, because we're making a difference."


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