State Of The Union Address: A Path To Recovery For Black America

A Path to Recovery for Black America

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter discusses small business development with Black Enterprise Editorial Director Alan Hughes. (Source: Lonnie C. Major)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter discusses small business development with Black Enterprise Editorial Director Alan Hughes. (Source: Lonnie C. Major)

-    Seek more advice and input from African American CEOs, labor leaders and financial firms in policy-making. For instance, Obama Administration officials should consult with minority business owners before finalizing plans on how it will use TARP funds to make working capital loans available to small companies.
-    Create a direct lending facility for businesses. In order to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses receive adequate funding to meet immediate needs, the federal government would develop a body similar to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide direct financing to such companies.
-    Streamline certification and review rules in the government procurement process and financing criteria. Businesses continue to be hampered by government red tape to gain consideration for contracts and other programs. The emphasis should be place on making government contracts more accessible to minority firms.
-    Ensure greater unbundling of government contracts. By doing so, the Obama Administration will create a more diverse pool of small and medium-sized suppliers to handle stimulus infrastructure work and other government contracts. As a result, more employment opportunities will be created.
-    Include greater involvement from HBCUs in programs that prepare students for college and skill-based employment. Although community colleges play a valuable role in education and retraining efforts, HBCUs will ensure that African Americans gain four-year degrees to participate in clean energy, information technology, biotechnology and other emerging industries.
-    Establish a new G. I. Bill to provide expanded employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Based on a concept offered by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who indicated that “veterans represent 25% of my city’s homeless population.” African American Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans — a number of whom are disabled — continue to be among the hardest hit by the current economic environment and require training and skills development.
-    Provide tax credits to incentivize individuals to put money aside for retirement. Even though 401Ks and IRAs are vehicles available to finance retirement, there are too many individuals — especially minorities — that don’t access such programs or use them effectively. Additional incentives will encourage more individuals to participate in investing and other such wealth-building efforts.
-    Create early-stage financial literacy and entrepreneurial development programs. Similar to the Educate to Innovate program that will make students more competitive in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), President Obama should promote a similar initiative involving consumer and investor education as a supplement to his financial reform efforts. The entrepreneurial training component would prepare individuals to develop businesses in emerging industries.