Will You Be Better Off In Four More Years?

Now that President Clinton has won a second term, B.E.'s economists assess whether African Americans will cross the bridge to a more prosperous 21st century or get taken for a ride

the first necessary step toward developing a legion of small black-owned businesses that can bring about significant change within the community.

“But it’s not a magic bullet, it’s a step-ping-stone,” says Boston. Margaret Simms adds, “If we’re going to encourage the creation of new businesses or entrepreneurial behavior among African Americans, then we have to look at where the markets are going, and who they will be selling to. It’s fine to produce more small businesses but if we want to get fast employment effects, we want to produce bigger ones. So access to capital becomes even more important than it has in the past.”

The small but growing number of successful black entrepreneurs who are currently generating jobs is an encouraging sign, notes the BEBE. “The issue now is how to multiply that number by 3,000-fold,” Boston emphasizes.

The bottom line is that there’s no quick-fix answer as to what African I Americans can expect during a second Clinton administration. It all depends on who you are and your financial situation. But opportunities do exist. If you’re a young adult looking for that first job, then you’d probably applaud Clinton’s effort to increase the minimum wage to $5.15 per hour. On the other side of the spectrum, small business owners or would-be entrepreneurs should be pleased with the looming possibilities of the empowerment/enterprise zones and other small business incentive programs that are expected to come out of the White House over the next couple of years.

Adds Boston: “Any group that’s existed in a state of underdevelopment, and then moved forward, did it by generating entrepreneurs who created jobs and economic opportunities. We have to understand the real solution is ultimately going to lie within our own community.”

Also, Clinton’s record in the last four years holds out morsels of hope. Since 1992, he’s increased the minimum wage by 90 cents an hour; expanded the earned income tax credit, which will lift the incomes of approximately 15 million low-income families; and required employers to give workers extended family leave. The budget deficit is less than half of what it was when he took office and unemployment is at its lowest level in six years. The improved economy has given investors an incentive to either start new businesses or expand’ their existing ones.

Other aspects of his proposals are certain to benefit some African Americans. Any growing middle-income family like the Fears can take advantage of the $1,500-a-year tuition tax credit, available for up to two years for families earning under $100,000. Clinton proposes to follow that up with a $10,000-per-year tax deduction for college expenses. And another bonus for families is the proposed $500 tax credit for preteen children.

Women entrepreneurs like Aliyyah Baylor should find promise in Clinton’s last-minute pledge to expand a Small Business Administration loan program. The women will be linked with intermediaries, who will help them plan and apply for SBA loans. The SBA also has a computer Web site, ACE-NET, that will allow small business owners to put their prospectuses

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