Minority-owned businesses growing

The Associated Press
Thursday March 22, 2001


WASHINGTON — While minorities are establishing a foothold in the business world, their companies so far are only generating a smidgen of the country’s total sales revenue, according to a new Census Bureau report. 

While 1 in 10 firms are owned by blacks or Hispanics, those businesses brought in only 1 percent of $18.6 trillion in total revenue receipts for all U.S. businesses in 1997, according to the report being released Thursday. 

That means lenders must give minority-owned businesses more leeway to turn a profit, and lawmakers must do more to educate future generations of blacks and Hispanics – the country’s two largest minority groups – to get them better prepared for the business world, said George Herrera, president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

“We still obviously have a long way to go in terms of being able to have these companies grow to a larger level, but what’s encouraging is we’re getting into entrepreneurship,” Herrera said Wednesday.  

“Diversity is no long just pretty and good, but it is essential in the business world.” 

Many of the more than 2 million black- or Hispanic-owned firms are in service-oriented markets that don’t have high growth potential but still serve an essential need in communities, said Roderick Harrison, a demographer with the Center for Joint Political and Economic Studies. 

Hispanics owned 1.2 million non-farm related businesses in 1997, and generated $186.3 billion in revenue. Blacks owned 823,499 firms, generating $71.2 billion in revenue in 1997. 

There are more Hispanic firms in part because the Hispanic population is exploding across the country.  

Those businesses are filling a specialty niche that others may not be able to fill, and many offer Spanish-language products unavailable elsewhere, Harrison said. 

Meanwhile, many black-owned firms compete for business with non-black owned firms across all sectors, stiffening competition, he said. 

The figures, compiled from a survey separate from the 2000 census, were the most recent available. Because of changes in the way the survey was taken, the 1997 results were not directly comparable to prior surveys. Most Hispanic- or black-owned forms were concentrated in four states with historically high percentages of minority population: New York, California, Texas and Florida. 

Mexicans owned 39 percent of 1.2 million businesses run by Hispanics — most among the specific Latino ethnic groups — which brought in $73.7 billion in receipts. 


On the Net: Census Bureau site: http://www.census.gov 

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: http://www.jointcenter.org/ 

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: http://www.ushcc.com/