May 2, 2008

Congressional Dems Probe the State of Minority Owned Businness

By Wendy Sefsaf
New America Media

A summit held over the past week in Washington took a look at the state of small business, what many call the “backbone” of the America economy.

According to Congressman Honda (D-CA) fifty percent of all small businesses are started by immigrants and minorities and they generate sixty percent of the new jobs created each year. However, small businesses are feeling the pinch of this economy. “Thirty percent of small business owners refinance their homes in order to keep their companies afloat,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). “With the cost of energy increasing, small businesses are impacted three times as hard as large businesses.”

There are more than four million minority-owned companies in the US with annual sales totaling $694 billion. The group of politicians and small business owners who attended the summit are calling for greater investment in programs to assist small businesses with things like government contacting, venture capital and counseling services.

Honda said the Small Business Administration has done little to reach minorities, women and other underserved communities.

Belkis Leon-Hong, President of Knowledge Advantage Inc., one of the small business owners who participated in the summit said “small business are asked to team with larger businesses on government contracts just to fill the quota, however we make much less money then they do and the work of proposal writing takes up a lot of our resources.”

Michael Chan, President of Asian, Inc. said that Asian businesses are feeling impact of the flat consumer market, “Chinese Restaurants are mixing Texas long grain rice with jasmine rice in order to make ends meet.”

Cardin touted some of the laws they have passed recently that assist small businesses.

For example, H.R. 5140 The Economic Stimulus act signed in February increases from $125,000 to $250,000 the amount of deductions a business can take when their budget is $800,000 or less. “Tax wise it is a big help, when you make large purchases to support your business you could spend the money with no ability to deduct it as a business expense, now you have a larger threshold for writing these expenses off” said tax accountant Gayle O’Connor.

There are a number of other bills that have been voted unanimously out of the Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship Committee chaired by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) however according to Cardin they have been blocked by the Republicans. “Helping small businesses has never before been a partisan issue.” However, he said repeatedly that this Administration has done little for small business.

Congressman Honda also noted that federal agencies under the Bush Administration are not doing enough. “They are not meeting their small business or minority quotas and we will be conducting rigorous oversight of these agencies to ensure they are giving minority-owned small businesses a chance.”

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