By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has promised to specifically undergird Black-owned businesses if elected. It is a promise long-awaited by activists who have pushed for attention on economic justice issues, including disparate government contracts and access to funding for Black-owned businesses.
“So I know if we’re serious about growing our economy and making sure it works for all Americans, we’ve got to do more to support small businesses. That is especially true for Black-owned small businesses,” Clinton said in a videotaped message to the leadership and members of the U. S. Black Chambers Inc. (USBC). “I know there are still too many barriers holding back entrepreneurs. You know better than anyone because you help tear down those barriers every day.”
The exclusive video was actually recorded earlier this year as a greeting to the USBC’s annual business meeting in May.
In the video, Clinton said small businesses “are critical to our economy and create two-thirds of all new jobs.”
She praised the USBC for its programs that connect “aspiring entrepreneurs with professional mentors” and work with financial institutions “to make sure Black business owners get the capital and credit they need to flourish.”
She concluded, “That’s good for Americans. It’s good for all Americans because our whole economy does better when Black entrepreneurs succeed.”
The race between Clinton and billionaire businessman Donald Trump is now down to the wire. It’s now less than two weeks before election day Nov. 8. As Trump has reached out to Black constituents promising more jobs, “law and order” in the streets, and tax credits for child care, Clinton has promised stronger Black-owned businesses, affordable or free tuition at public colleges, and major adjustments to the criminal justice system, including new policies to deal with police shootings of unarmed African-Americans.
USBC President/CEO Ron Busby, who Clinton praised for his work to improve the climate for Black-owned businesses around the nation, said he believes Clinton will build on the Obama administration’s work for small businesses.
“I just think that we thought President Obama was going to be a cure all. But, no one elected officials can be a cure all. We must continue and develop policy. I think he did. But we didn’t put enough pressure on the Senate, Congress, governors, mayors, and city councils to really get all of the stuff that we need to get done,” said Busby in an interview response to the video. He said the USBC will press the next president to deal specifically with African-American owned businesses instead of lumping Black businesses in with the federal description of “minority”. The federal description of minority not only means people other than White, but it also includes White women.This means numbers showing “minority inclusion” can be misleading when making policies to respond to low support for Black businesses.
“I don’t think we ever really pressed that issue enough,” said Busby. “Historically because we’ve had such a large number of contractors and businesses, we got our fair share or at least we got our opportunities to compete for our fair share. What minority means today is so many different groups – including women, gays and lesbians, and all the various nationalities – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying that all of those groups shouldn’t have an opportunity to compete, but we need to know exactly – if you want to fix my community, then you have to be very diligent about how you go about it. And you just can’t say all tides are going to raise the ships.”
If elected, Clinton indicates her work for small businesses may become a staple issue like affordable healthcare was for Obama.
“I’ve said many times I want to be the small business president. I think small businesses need a strong partner in the White House,” Clinton said in the video. “Together we’ll expand opportunity, cut red tape, increase investment and connect businesses to markets around the world. We can do so much together. And I can’t wait to get started.”