Black Enterprise Exclusive: Interview with President Barack Obama

The nations 44th president discusses how he plans to fix the economy and strengthen minority business.

open process. This can lay the framework for how we proceed on a whole host of other projects in the future in a way that builds trust in our government.

On minority businesses gaining access to contracts: Most states, if not all, have provisions in place that ensure that minority- and women-owned businesses and small businesses are participating. We expect states to abide by their local rules. And obviously federal rules are going to pertain as well when it comes to, for example, making federal buildings more energy efficient. We’re going to be very clear about making sure that goals are set that ensure participation of every type of business imaginable.

On small business development: I am committed to revamping the Small Business Administration. It’s become an afterthought agency and not as focused as it needs to be on its mission, which is helping small businesses grow and helping startups. We’ve [nominated] a terrific new director of the SBA, Karen Mills, who is going to be very aggressive in getting out of federal buildings and reaching out to the business community to figure out exactly what they need in terms of help. Obviously the biggest problem small businesses have right now is access to credit. As part of our financial rollout, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will be talking about a series of measures working with the Treasury as well as the Federal Reserve Bank, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and other institutions to open up credit flows to small businesses. We’re also going to expand and hope to use some of the SBA programs that are currently in place for emergency situations, so that small businesses have a place to go to keep their doors open and deal with all the problems they’re having making payroll.

On reaching out to the public: I guarantee that during the course of this year we are going to get out of Washington with great frequency. I think one of the most important things I can do is to highlight what is happening outside of Washington so that the folks who are in Washington understand who they are working for.

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