August 8, 2014
I was recently reminded that there has been an effort to haveAugust designated as National Black Business Month. There is no question that we welcome any attempt to raise the level of awareness of the need to support Black-owned businesses, but the very existence of USBC should demonstrate thatwe believe that awareness is "24-7/365", that is, all day long, every day, all year long.
We don't believe that compartmentalizing our work into a one-month observance would make our focus during the other eleven months any less necessary. That being said, any activity that heightens the awareness of the need to support the growth and development of Black businesses is welcome news.
Also welcome is the recent news - albeit with an asterisk -- from the U.S. Small Business Administration thatthe federal government reached its small business contracting goals for the first time in eight years.Small businesses netted 23.39 percent of federal contract awards to earn $83.1 billion in opportunity. That really is good news... the asterisk is that hidden somewhere deep down in the report is NO RELIABLE DATA on contract awards to Black-owned businesses.We did learn, however, that significant numbers of Black-owned businesses are not reporting ethnicity when bidding for federal contracts. We're sure that most of us understand why these business owners think it's advantageous to remain "anonymous" during the rigorous federal contracting process, but it really does make it that much more difficult to determine progress on spending with Black contractors and suppliers.
As we've noted in earlier President's Messages, federal contract awards to Black businesses have been slipping, at least for the immediate past three years. We will continue to dig through this latest report for a better grasp of the performance of Black businesses. The work we began with SBA while Marie Johns was Deputy Administrator is definitely paying dividends, and this report from new Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet is proof that - finally - small business spending is heading in the right direction.
Of particular note, an initiative that we've championed since we began this work five years ago, also made headlines recently whenPresident Obama announced the extension of QuickPay, the program that shortens the length of time federal agencies take to issue a check for completed work or delivered goods to 15 days in most cases. In addition, 26 large and small private-sector companies have committed to compensating contractors within 15 days as well. This is h-u-g-e for Black businesses fortunate to have been awarded public and private-sector contracts.
On the tech tip:The USBC Mobile App is available for both Android and iPhone users!Finding Black-owned businesses is as easy as launching the app, typing in your city location and/or the category of business you're looking for and - POW! - phone number, map, and directions appear, helping you find local businesses right around the corner!
We can't imagine a more natural evolution, a better way to improve both the awareness of the number of Black-owned businesses and increase their bottom lines. The USBC Mobile App capitalizes on the fact that African Americans rely on their smart phones more than any other consumer group. Through the use of this tool, America's Black businesses and the consuming public will benefit tremendously - all by clicking an app on their phone!Download it today!
In the Spirit of Success,
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.