James Clingman

(NNPA)—While the 2012 economic Census data have not yet been released, I am certain we will see another increase in the number of Black-owned businesses over the past five years. As a matter of fact, Black business start-ups increased at the highest rate during the previous 5-year census period. It’s great that we are going into business, but it is shortsighted for us to stop there and celebrate just the number of businesses and overlook the growth of those businesses. Understanding that most small businesses go out of business in a few years, it is vital that we concentrate on growing the businesses we have in addition to merely counting them.

A closer look at 2007 census data will indicate that of the nearly 2 million Black-owned businesses, only 106,566 had employees; the total number of employees is 909,552, not all of whom are Black, of course, with an annual payroll of just more than $23 million. Please take a moment and juxtapose those stats against the $1 trillion annual income of Black people in this country, and then analyze the information relative to our population size and the percentage of Black businesses that are sole proprietorships.

One-person businesses are not inherently bad; don’t get me wrong. However, the problem with approximately 5 percent of Black-owned businesses having employees indicates a dearth in business growth within our ranks. With that same scenario being repeated from census to census Black economic empowerment via the very engine that moves this nation and the world—business—will never be achieved.   That is a prescription for falling even further behind, especially when you consider the realignment of geopolitical power and influence; Black businesses must not only be started, they must be grown to a scale that hire more people and increases their value proposition.

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