EYE ON BUSINESS: The rise or fall of black America
WHY THE BUSINESS SECTOR HOLDS THE KEY TO OUR FUTURE.
BY ERNEST FOUNTAIN
The future of black America will be determined by the rise or fall of the black business sector. That is the theme of the 4th Annual Black Business Expo — hosted by the MBDA Business Center-Las Vegas and the Black Business Council of Nevada. The event will be held May 26-28 at the Cannery Hotel in North Las Vegas.
We must acknowledge that all power in America is derived from the business sector, which controls or heavily influences all other components of the system. Whether it be government, politics or people in general, there is no power without economic power. Black people are not fully enjoying the fruits of prosperity of this country, because we don’t understand the principles of capitalism; therefore our economic power is misused, misdirected and misplaced.
We have continued to fall over the last eight years, because there has been a decline in the growth and vitality of the black business sector. Over 21 black banks and over 200 community development credit unions have failed, along with thousands of black businesses. We are last in securing government contracts, last in Small Business Administration and New Markets Tax Credit funding. Our businesses are last in revenue generation, while our banks are last in total assets. Blacks still have the highest unemployment rate (in double digits) in the nation, with black families having the lowest net worth ($6,446) and coming in last in the wealth gap analysis. Due to these issues, the Black Business Expo’s general session and panel discussions will be geared toward developing the strategies required for us to rise.
In order to rise above all of these negatives, we must all work diligently to address these shortfalls in our community. It starts with depositing all of our money into existing black financial institutions, and creating more black financial institutions to control our money supply. It is estimated that we spend $1.1 trillion each year, while our banks have only $4 billion in total assets and our black businesses generate $138 billion in total revenue. We must deliberately place our money in our own financial institutions, and deliberately do business with one another by buying black — just like the campaign to “buy American.”
In order to rise, we must elect into office, at every level, individuals who understand and represent the interests and welfare of the black business sector. Not those who represent a particular ward or district, but who represent black people. People who understand that creating government contract opportunities for black businesses is not an embarrassment, and is no different than those created for women, veterans, the disabled, Asians or Latinos. Elected officials who understand that because one or two is allowed through the door does not mean that it works. Leaders who recognize that diversity is a strategy by our competitors, intended to divert black America away from creating the economic infrastructure that is missing in our community.
In 1963 there were only 1,469 black elected officials in the United States; today, there are an estimated 11,500 throughout the country, at every level — including the presidency. We have more elected black officials than any time in the history of this country, yet we are still last in every economic indicator. We will rise if we, as black people, choose our own candidates — people who understand economics, banking, business and finance. Leaders committed to us as a people, and who are willing to stand in the gap for the black business sector. We will rise if these elected officials ensure that black businesses have access to the trillions of dollars being spent by the governments of this country, whether it be federal, state or local.
We will rise once this strategy — which will create a black economic infrastructure to help black businesses compete both domestically and internationally — is implemented. With the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) set to be renewed by Sept. 15, additional doors will be opened into that emerging market, creating more commerce between America and Africa. There will be numerous exporting and importing opportunities thanks to this legislation, and an entire day of the expo will focus on AGOA.
Follow this strategy and let’s rise!