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Landrieu Explores Plight of Black Businesses

James Wright | , WI Staff Writer | 9/26/2012, 11:49 a.m.

The discussion centered on black businesses' lack of access to capital. B. Doyle Mitchell Jr., president and CEO of Industrial Bank of Washington and president of the National Bankers Association, the trade association for black bankers, can attest to the myriad problems.

"Community banks hold 10 percent of all capital in banks but lend 40 percent of all small business loans," said Mitchell, 50.

Landrieu talked about the "ecosystem" as a way to benefit black businesses, because blacks businesses are a part of the nation's commercial and economic system and if they can be bolstered, the American economic system will benefit.

"People are interdependent now economically," she said. "In order to strengthen black businesses, they need access to capital, counseling, strategic partnerships and access to global markets."

There are exceptions.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said that the primary reason black businesses do so well in his city is the culture that exist there.

"Forbes magazine has Atlanta ranked No. 1for minority businesses," said Reed, 43. "It is part of the culture in our city to support black business and that started about 40 years ago with the administration of Maynard Jackson, who insisted that black businesses get 25 percent of government contracts in the city."

National Urban League President Marc Morial said that black businesses in cities like Atlanta are experiencing success for two reasons.

"One, there is a public policy component in place that supports African-American businesses and they are serious about it," said Morial, 54. "Two, the large companies in Atlanta have supplier diversity programs that make it a point to include black businesses."

Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, said he finds that large black businesses that succeed tend to link business-to-business or business-to-government contracts not business-to-consumer."

While the various techniques and strategies discussed sounded interesting to Mitchell, it really boils down to one thing for him.

"We as blacks have to learn how to support black businesses," he said.

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