Bullish On Minority Business

MBDA director sees better days ahead

There may be an economic recession, but Ronald N. Langston, national director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), is quick to point to the bright side.

“Many minority businesses across the board have been expanding and growing,” says Langston, who is wrapping up his first year at the helm of the MBDA. President George W. Bush appointed him to the spot on March 19, 2001. “We’re seeing some businesses go through a slump, while some are rising. Those in biotechnology and environmental cleanup are making a lot of money now.”

According to a report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau on July 12, 2001, minority-owned businesses, those owned by African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or Native Americans, grew more than four times as fast as U.S. firms overall between 1992 and 1997, increasing from 2.1 million to about 2.8 million. The 33% growth rate exceeded the 6.4% increase for all U.S. firms.

Despite that growth, the impact of the economy on minority-business development resulted in difficulty for entrepreneurs hoping to raise capital, something the MBDA is contending with, says Langston. According to a 1999 report by the BLACK ENTERPRISE Board of Economists, of the $4.2 billion invested through Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), $4.09 billion went to majority firms and only $128 million went to minority firms.

The MBDA provides a range of services, including management advice, business and financial plan developing, and matching entrepreneurs with financiers, designed to increase the business-participation rate of minority businesses in the country.

One of Langston’s goals is to see minority business increase into other industries.

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