- Report Published -
|Department of Minority Business Enterprise Progress Report: Operational Enhancements|
|Secretary of Administration|
|Appropriation Act - Item 100 C. (Special Session I, 2006)|
|There is a great tradition of entrepreneurship in America that cuts across ethnic, age and gender distinctions. In fact, at any given time, over 10 million Americans are starting new ventures. Interestingly, recent studies demonstrate that people of color, in particular, show an unusually high rate of business start-ups. Black men and women are 50% more likely to start a business than non-minority men, Hispanic men about 20% more likely than non-minority men and Hispanic women equally likely as non-minority women to start a business. For people of color and women in particular, owning a successful business is a key part of the American Dream.|
Unfortunately for these hardworking, talented entrepreneurs, it is often a dream deferred. For them, markets and capital - the lifeblood of any successful business - are significantly more difficult to access. The challenge remains, even as their businesses develop capacity. This is true across, America and it is true in Virginia, even as the number of Virginia start-up businesses grow.
To its credit, the Commonwealth has decided to act. The clarion call of the 2004 Procurement Disparity Study of the Commonwealth led to a number of aggressive actions by the Administration and the General Assembly. These actions are intended to remove the impediments to fair contracting and create an infrastructure that provides equal opportunity to all vendors. The evidence shows that these actions have yielded some measure of success in recent years. Percentage-wise. Virginia is now buying more goods and services from women and minority business enterprises than at any other time in its past. But there is still much work- to be done.
Virginia has an opportunity to be a leader in this arena. In the state where the first American businesses were founded, where 31 percent of businesses are owned by women and 15 percent by people of color, our actions should inspire optimism on the part of those who thought the door to state procurement was closed. Under the leadership of Governor Kaine, with direction from the Secretary of Administration and embraced by every state agency, institution and authority, the 'steps the Commonwealth takes going forward will send a signal that discrimination in state procurement practices no longer will be tolerated. Our actions will convey a message that anyone with the vision and fortitude to start and sustain a business in Virginia will have an equal opportunity to do business with the Commonwealth. Achieving this goal requires an effective, well-resourced Department of Minority Business Enterprise.