Small Business: Candidates On the Record - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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On the presidential campaign trail, Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain have all pledged their support for ensuring the vitality of small businesses. But just as they don’t all see eye to eye on how the country should be run, they don’t all stand in agreement on the issues.

With small businesses providing 60% to 80% of new U.S. jobs and employing about 50% of the workforce, their needs prove to be a significant factor necessary to improving the economy. However, the issues that affect small businesses the most–implementing immigration reform, providing universal healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, discouraging bundled government contracts, and sponsoring employer tax cuts–sometimes fall on both sides of the partisan fence.

“What makes America go is business enterprise,” says John Sibley Butler, professor of management and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. “All of the candidates realize that. You’re not going to find a candidate that says, ‘I’m not going to support small businesses.’ The question is how do they plan to do it? They all have different ways of making it go.”

Small and Disadvantaged Businesses
“In federal contracting, there continues to be a shift of small business contracting away from 8(a) firms and small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) towards non-minority-owned small businesses, businesses owned by non-minority women, and businesses owned by veterans,” says Thomas D. Boston, professor of economics at Georgia Tech, and author of the book Affirmative Action and Black Entrepreneurship. “Rather than expanding the pie, the federal government has maintained the small business contracting goal of 27%. This means that programs designed to assist minority-owned businesses are competing with other small business programs for a fair share of the designated small business contracting dollars.”

Obama noted recently that the gap between the amounts of venture capital and access to business loans available to minority-owned small businesses compared to other small businesses continues to grow. “Less than 1% of the $250 billion in venture capital dollars invested annually nationwide has been directed to the country’s 4.4 million minority business owners,” Obama states on his Website.

“Historically, Republicans established the federal government’s minority business program. But they have also attacked the affirmative action regulations that are required to keep those programs constitutionally viable,” Boston says. “On the other hand, Democrats have been less focused on providing support for small and minority-owned businesses, but they have supported affirmative action programs that are essential to ensuring the survival of those programs.”

Obama has vowed to strengthen the Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms. Clinton pledges to make sure that women- and minority-owned small businesses receive their fair share of government contracts, removing obstacles that block many of them from doing business with the federal government. According to a press release, Clinton also plans to raise the current small business allocation for government contracts from 5% to 8%. McCain has been mostly silent on

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.