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President Barack Obama has signed into law the $787 billion economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The act provides a framework for jumpstarting the stalled economy.


According to the Census Bureau, small businesses have created 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs over the last decade.  They employ nearly half of all private sector employees.  In February 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama said: 


Helping American small business is part of our movement for change and the end of politics as usual.  98 percent

of all American companies have fewer than 100 employees.  Over half of all Americans work for a small business.

Small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy and we must protect this great resource.  It is time to

end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.


More recently, Sen. Mary Landrieu, chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, observed, “Small business will be the engine that drives us out of this ditch and move us forward.”


Yet, there are no small and disadvantaged business goals in the economic recovery plan.  In a letter to House leaders, the Congressional Black Caucus urged inclusion of language to ensure small and disadvantaged business participation:


We urge the inclusion of language to incorporate in any solicitation or contract, standards and procedures

to ensure the inclusion of small, minority and disadvantaged businesses consistent with existing federal law.


President Obama has established metrics by which to measure the effectiveness of his plan.  He told Black Enterprise:


Most states, if not all the states, have provisions in place to ensure minority, women and small businesses

participation. We expect states to abide by their local rules. Obviously, federal rules are going to pertain as

well when it comes to, for example, making federal buildings more energy efficient.  Should that be part of

the package, we’re going to be very clear about making sure that goals are set that ensure participation

of every type of business imaginable.


In his February 14 weekly address to the nation, President Obama said:


                  Now, some fear we won’t be able to effectively implement a plan of this size and scope, and I understand their

                  skepticism.  Washington hasn’t set a very good example in recent years.  And with so much on the line, it’s time to

                  begin doing things differently. 


                  That’s why our goal must be to spend these precious dollars with unprecedented accountability, responsibility, and

                  transparency.  I’ve tasked my cabinet and staff to set up the kind of management, oversight, and disclosure that will

                  help ensure that, and I will challenge state and local governments to do the same.


For African Americans, the measure of success will be whether implementation of the economic stimulus plan is fair and equitable.  Tracking Change will measure whether it reduces the double-digit rate of unemployment, provides job training and summer jobs for young people, and opens opportunities in clean energy and the green economy.


Tracking Change will monitor compliance with existing statutory law and Federal regulations that mandate contracting with small and disadvantaged businesses.


News Stories

Will the Stimulus Package Stimulate Minority Businesses?

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