Guest Commentator: James Sanders, MBA, Vice President, Commercial & Industrial Lending, Customers Bank @CustomersBank

In honor of Minority Enterprise Development Week, why is it important to support minority-owned businesses?

By supporting minority-owned businesses we accelerate business growth and begin to close the wealth gap between minorities and non-minorities. Across America, minority-owned businesses employ more than 6.3 million Americans and generate over $1 trillion in revenue according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). According to the U.S. Census of the more than 327 million people in America, 18.3% are Hispanic or Latino, 13.4% are Black or African American, and 5.9% are Asian. The Census also projects by 2044 more than half of the American population will belong to a minority group. While America is moving towards a majority-minority population, minority-owned businesses do not reflect the same trend nor does the wealth in ethnically diverse communities.

Philadelphia is currently the sixth largest populated city in the U.S.A. with over 1.5 million residents. Although we are the sixth largest city in America, Philadelphia is ranked third with the highest poverty rate of a major city behind Detroit and Cleveland respectively according to the 2017 Census Bureau. Of those 1.5MM people, over 50% are ethnic minorities. As of June 2019, Philadelphia’s unemployment rate was 5.2% versus the national (U.S.) unemployment rate at 3.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Conversely, the poverty rate in Philadelphia is one of the highest in the nation for major cities as of 2017 at 25.7%, which represents over 400,000 residents according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The City of Philadelphia is a majority-minority city with approximately 65% of the population representing ethnic minorities.

According to a report produced by the PEW Charitable Trust on April 2019, the City of Philadelphia is home to over 112,000 businesses. Of the 112,000 businesses, only 8% are publicly traded on a stock exchange or owned by a major corporation; they represent over two-thirds of the income for the City of Philadelphia. Black- and Asian-owned companies accounted for less than 3% of the City’s income.

So, why is it imperative that we support minority-owned businesses?  Because minority-owned businesses are four times as likely to hire minorities versus non-minorities according to MBDA. If we support minority-owned businesses through retail business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions or supplier diversity in business to business (B2B) transactions, then they grow, hire more employees, become a larger tax base for the City, and potentially attract talent of levels.

Here are some ways to intentionally utilize your resources to bolster minority-owned and -operated businesses:

  1. Buy a product or service from a minority-owned business.
  2. Advocate for your company, clients, and/or co-colleagues to support minority-owned businesses all year-around.
  3. Create fair and equitable opportunity for minority-businesses to compete.
  4. Provide incentives for large enterprises and non-minority firms to partner with minority-owned businesses.
  5. Change the narrative on minority participation by developing public policy and legislation to support minority business growth in the Greater Philadelphia region.
  6. Create a tax-friendly marketplace for small and diverse minority-owned businesses.
  7. Attract reputable minority-owned businesses to our region much like Select Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia is tasked with attracting new business to Philadelphia.
  8. Extend financial and/or in-kind support to the organizations that support minority-owned businesses.

Address all or some of the issues presented above and:

  1. Minority-owned businesses will establish and stay in Philadelphia
  2. Poverty levels will reduce
  3. Tax revenues will increase
  4. Unemployment rates will decrease

Minority-owned products and services can be found across Philadelphia. Here are a few places where minority-owned businesses have done business: Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park), Lincoln Financial Field, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Burger King, Wendy’s, Salvation Army Kroc Center, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University, Comcast, and many more. On the retail side, you can find most of your favorites from eateries, cigar bars, shoes, and haberdashers. It was approximately 35 years ago when Philadelphia adopted Minority Enterprise Development Week. We began to bring awareness to celebrating and recognizing minority enterprises across the region. Minority-owned businesses are agile, innovative, and ready to do business. Enjoy 2019 MED Week by fostering new business relationships that will be mutually beneficial.

Upcoming Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Event

Reniqua Allen explores the intersection of age and race in her book It Was All a Dream, bringing to life the stories of black millennials who are striving for the American Dream despite discriminatory policies that contribute to higher rates of student debt, unemployment, and incarceration than their white counterparts.

Hear Allen’s keynote presentation and discover best practices from regional employers who are working to develop policies that acknowledge all aspects of social identity and bolster inclusion.