Feb 22, 2011

The Growth of Black-Owned Businesses: Entrepreneurship by Necessity

To Be Equal#8
February 23, 2011
The Growth of Black-Owned Businesses: Entrepreneurship by Necessity

Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

"I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!" Madam C.J. Walker, trailblazing African American businesswoman.

There is a silver lining in the dark cloud of the great recession. A new Census Bureau report reveals that from 2002 to 2007 the number of Black-owned businesses in the United States increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million – more than triple the national rate. According to Census Bureau Deputy Director, Thomas Mesenbourg, “Black-owned businesses continued to be one of the fastest growing segments of our economy, showing rapid growth in both the number of businesses and total sales during this time period.”

The reasons for this are many, beginning with the long history of African American entrepreneurship in response to poverty, high unemployment and discrimination. Consider the case of Madam C.J. Walker, the daughter of slaves who, in the early 1900s, turned her dream of financial independence into a hair care and cosmetics business that revolutionized the beauty products industry, created good paying jobs, and made her a wealthy woman and philanthropist.

Like Madam C.J. Walker, many African Americans may have turned to entrepreneurship in the years covered by the Census Bureau study because of high unemployment in our communities. The fact is, Black unemployment never got back down to where it was before the recession in 2001. So in effect, what we are seeing is a bit of entrepreneurship by necessity. There’s also an economic independent streak, particularly among emerging generations in the Black community. Building a business gives great satisfaction and cushions them from the shock of losing jobs because of economic down cycles.

New York State leads the country with more than 204,000 Black-owned businesses, followed by Georgia and Florida respectively. From 2002 to 2007, nearly 4 in 10 of these businesses operated in the health care and social assistance; and repair, maintenance, personal and laundry services sectors. The retail trade and health care and social assistance sectors accounted for 27.4 percent of Black-owned business revenue.

The survey also found that in addition to an increase in the number of Black-owned businesses, annual sales increased by 55% to $137.5 billion.

I recently called on federal, state and local governments to develop a “hyper-focus” on black- and minority-owned businesses. Every city, county, and state needs to have a plan that focuses on small and minority business. There is a spirit of entrepreneurship out there that needs to be nurtured and energized.

While the Census Bureau report is generally good news, we know that Black businesses still make up only 7 percent of all companies and they tend to be smaller and have lower gross receipts than other businesses. Black-owned businesses are also often hampered in their revenue growth by a lack of capital, connections and contracts.

What I hope this report says loudly and clearly to the investment community is that you are missing an emerging market in the United States. If minority businesses are growing at a faster clip than overall businesses, imagine what the growth rate would be if those barriers were eliminated or lowered. We need the investor community to look at this report and recognize that they are missing an incredible opportunity.


Feb 17, 2011

National Urban League Selects Cincinnati USA for 2014 Annual Conference


Julie Calvert, Vice President, Communications & Strategic Development
Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
o: 513.632.5378 m: 513.910.6186 JCalvert@CincyUSA.com

Monica E. Magette
Director of Development & Marketing
Urban League of Greater Cincinnati
o: 513.487.6533 m: 513.739.7158 mmagette@gcul.org

CINCINNATI, OH, February 17, 2011 — The National Urban League, one of the country’s oldest and most respected civil rights organizations, announced today that it has selected Cincinnati USA as the site for its 2014 Annual Conference.

The announcement was made at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) by Donna Jones Baker, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, who was joined by Dan Lincoln, president and CEO of the CVB, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann.

The National Urban League conference is expected to bring more than 7,000 hotel room nights and millions of dollars in economic impact to the region. But Mayor Mallory suggested it will bring something even more important.

“Like the NAACP and National Baptist conventions before it, when the National Urban League comes to Cincinnati, the eyes of the country will be on this region,” said Mayor Mallory. “Influential government leaders, business leaders and civil rights advocates will be here, engaging in important dialogue. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for Cincinnati, one that solidifies our stature as a top-tier destination. I commend Donna and her team at the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati for their great advocacy of this city and their extraordinary efforts to bring this opportunity to our doorstep. I know this community will step up to the challenge and make you proud.”

Headquartered in New York City with more than 90 affiliates across the country, the National Urban League’s mission is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

In keeping with that mission and the theme of the CVB’s Annual Meeting – “Collaboration. Community. Connections.” – Baker was joined on stage by a team of regional leaders who worked together to win the meeting, including Mayor Mallory, Commissioner Hartmann and Thomas Knott, Director of Diversity Strategies at Macy’s. Many of them were awarded the CVB’s Champion Award for their efforts.

“Bringing the National Urban League conference to Cincinnati is a great victory, not just for us at the local affiliate, but for our entire community,” said Baker. "It was such a rewarding experience to work with passionate people from across the region throughout the bid and selection processes. We won this conference together and today we celebrated together, and I can’t wait for my colleagues across the country to experience Cincinnati USA in 2014.”

Hamilton County Commission President Greg Hartmann echoed that sentiment: “Winning and hosting the National Urban League gives us the chance to showcase the best of our entire region – from a revitalized downtown to the expansion of the Sharonville Convention Center to the great development taking place all across Hamilton County. The County leadership will continue to stay engaged with the CVB and all the organizations that are driving economic impact and strong results for the region.”

The National Urban League is the latest in a string of high-profile ethnic and multicultural conventions to select Cincinnati USA, including the NAACP, National Baptists, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, LULAC the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

“In 2003 and 2004, ethnic meetings represented a very small percentage of our convention business,” said Lincoln. “But in 2009 and 2010 alone, we hosted 30 ethnic-related conventions and since 2009, we’ve booked more than 108,000 hotel room nights for ethnic and multicultural meetings, representing more than $32 million in economic impact for the region. Our community-wide collaboration and a commitment to improving every aspect of how we position ourselves to the world has opened the doors to incredible opportunity.”

It was that community spirit and dedication to continuous improvement that earned the attention of the National Urban League.

“When our national leadership took a closer look at Cincinnati, they saw a community on the rise,” added Baker. “They saw dramatically improved police/community relations and a renewed spirit of collaboration. And in the end, they decided that now was the right time for Cincinnati!”

Added Mayor Mallory: “Dan and his team at the CVB are doing stellar work in positioning this region for success and winning new opportunities for Cincinnati to attract the national spotlight. Our window of opportunity opened to win the National Urban League and we had the right people and resources in place to fully capitalize on that opportunity.”

The announcement was made in front of a record-setting crowd of 500 business professionals, civic leaders and members of the regional hospitality industry at the CVB’s 2011 Annual Meeting. And the good news didn’t stop there. The CVB celebrated its strongest convention booking results in more than a decade and its sixth straight year of growth in its two most important industry metrics: future hotel room bookings, which totaled 200,317 in 2010, and the related economic impact conventions bring to the region, which reached a six-year high of $59.6 million. These figures are up 14 percent since 2007 and up 33 percent since 2005.

“Successfully winning and hosting conventions of all sizes takes more than just a strong CVB,” said Lincoln. “This opportunity would not have been possible without the full support of our entire regional hospitality industry – the hoteliers, our partners at the Duke Energy Convention Center, our great events and attractions. They were all in the trenches with us to help us put Cincinnati USA put its best foot forward, and they will all be on the front lines of creating a great visitor experience when the National Urban League comes in 2014.”

About the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is an aggressive sales, marketing and service organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact Hamilton County's and the City of Cincinnati's economy through convention, trade show and visitor expenditures. The travel and tourism industry traditionally has been a $3.4 billion industry in Cincinnati USA, employing 81,000 people in a variety of fields and, historically, bringing five million visitors to the region annually.

About the National Urban League
The National Urban League is the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy. Today, there are more than 90 local affiliates in 36 states and the District of Columbia, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people nationwide.


Feb 9, 2011

To Be Equal

To Be Equal #6
February 9, 2011
Don’t Mess With the 14th Amendment

Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. Section I of the 14th Amendment

The immigration debate has taken another ugly turn. First, Arizona passed a law, now under federal challenge, granting unprecedented powers to police to stop and demand proof of citizenship from anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Now, two United States Senators, a Congressman and at least 14 states have proposed amending or reinterpreting the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to deny citizenship to U.S. born children of undocumented immigrants.
The 14th amendment effectively overturned the Supreme Court’s infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision which ruled that no slave or descendent of a slave could ever be a United States citizen. Since its ratification in 1868, the 14th Amendment’s clear statements on birthright citizenship, due process and equal protection, have formed the basis for a large measure of social and economic reforms. In fact, the Supreme Court cited the violation of the 14th amendment’s “equal protection” clause as a major factor in its 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision ending segregation in American schools. The 14th Amendment’s most famous “birthright” defense came in 1898, when the Supreme Court, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, upheld the citizenship of a child born in the United States to Chinese immigrant parents who lived in San Francisco but were not legal citizens.
The law is clear: anyone born on American soil, regardless of race or ethnicity is entitled to automatic citizenship. For more than 100 years, that has been a fundamental principle of American democracy. But recently, anti-immigration forces across the country have claimed that large numbers of illegal immigrants are crossing the border simply to have what they derisively call “anchor babies” – children who automatically qualify for the benefits of United States citizenship. Despite the fact that this rarely occurs, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, have introduced legislation that would amend the 14th amendment and deny citizenship to the U.S born children of immigrants unless at least one parent has permanent resident status, or is a naturalized citizen or is serving in the U.S. military.
Last year, in what appeared to be a mid-term election campaign ploy, a number of conservative Senators said they might call hearings to air their opposition to automatic citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. Most observers and scholars think that a push to amend the Constitution is likely to fail given that it would require votes from 67 Senators, 290 Congressmen and ratification by 38 states.
But that has not stopped its supporters. On the first day of the new Congress, Rep. Steve King of Iowa chose what he believes is a less arduous route by introducing legislation that would outlaw birthright citizenship by amending the Immigration and Nationality Act.
While opponents of birthright citizenship contend their intent is to curb illegal immigration, this is clearly another divisive step that would weaken America’s tradition and strength as a nation of immigrants.
Our message to anyone attempting to rewrite history and the law for their own political purposes is clear: Don’t mess with the 14th Amendment.

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