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Lawmakers to address minority owned businesses and wealth gap

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WASHINGTON – On Sept. 29 on Capitol Hill, lawmakers will take a close look at the increasingly alarming wealth gap between white households and African-American and Hispanic households.

U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and Ben Cardin will be joined by their colleagues in the House, U.S. Reps. Chaka Fattah, Yvette Clark and Cedric Richmond for a roundtable discussion to address issues minority businesses can play in reducing the gap.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Foundation recently released information showing the net wealth of white households is 20 times that of Black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. According to Pew, the wealth gulf between white and African-American and Hispanic households is larger now than at any time in the almost 30 years the Census Bureau has been collecting such data by race.

“Since 2009, I have convened at least four meetings to address ways that the Small Business Committee and the SBA, through its many programs, can address and provide a remedy to the issues affecting minority small businesses,” Landrieu, D-La., said. “To find solutions, we must continue to evaluate and examine the role minority owned businesses can play in creating jobs and closing the wealth gap. The roundtable will build on our previous work, formulating how Congress and minority small businesses can work together to close and eventually erase the wealth gap identified by the Pew Research Center, NAACP and other economists.”

The roundtable will be held as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) convenes its 41st Annual Legislative Conference this weekend. Jobs, has been a major focus of the Congressional Black Caucus this year as members have organized job fairs, town hall meetings, job readiness programs, and seminars as part of their “For The People” jobs initiative resolution.

Sen. Cardin, D-Md., said, “I commend the Congressional Black Caucus for holding this roundtable discussion on minority small businesses. In Maryland, we are fortunate to have a vibrant community of minority small businesses, but they still face many challenges getting access to the capital they need to grow their businesses and hire more workers. I was pleased that provisions I authored in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 now require federal contracting officials to complete small business training before receiving certification, as well as report directly to Congress on contracting with veteran-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged small businesses. This roundtable should help us focus attention on ensuring a more level playing field for minority small businesses and expand opportunities for contracts and loans.”

The panel of experts will consist of researchers, government and business leaders who will review the 2011 Pew Research Center Study entitled, “Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics,” and discuss the factors contributing to the ever-widening gap.

Rep. Fattah, D-Pa., said the panel of experts will focus on areas to enhance the efficiencies and capabilities of minority-owned businesses. “They’ll be looking for better ways to sharpen in some cases and reduce in others some of the burdensome government regulations that complicate the operation of minority business programs and they’ll introduce the Gazelle Index – a new online business initiative – to improve the startup and growth of minority and women-owned businesses.”


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