National Black Business Month and the Journal of Black Innovation announced the Innovation Exchange during the Black Entrepreneurship Week July 10 in Raleigh sponsored by Carolina Small Business Development Fund, an example of public policy addressing the access to credit issue for black owned firms, and Shaw University, which teamed with the fund to create an Innovation Center.  $50,000 in prizes were given to women innovators in a ptich contest.  Journal guest editor Dr. Reginald Parker, CEO of Durham-based 510Nano, greets the hundreds of attendees.  An after-party concluded the week at Red Hat Inc.

Mechanics and Farmers imbedded in North Carolina

Jim Sills, president of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, is among a dozen bankers cited as Best in Black Business exemplars in Our10Plan: State of Black Business, 12th edition by John William Templeton, co-founder of National Black Business Month.

Michael Grant, member of the leadership team of Black Wealth 2020,, says, "#BLACKDOLLARSMATTER acknowledges the critical role of African-American banks to close the $30 billion credit gap which trims the sails of the 2.6 million African-American businesses. This data-rich resource convinces anyone of the great power of entrepreneurship to reach the goal of economic parity by 2020.”

Templeton unveils Our10Plan: African-American economic strategy during a luncheon Dec. 5 for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators convention in Los Angeles. The strategy sets a goal of reaching ten percent of U.S. GDP comprised of income to black businesses and consumers by 2020, which would double the current $1 trillion aggregate black income to $2 trillion. The current aggregate black income is just six percent of the $17 trillion GDP although African Americans are 11 percent of national population. The 2.6 million African-American firms are nine percent of all U.S. businesses.

Our10Plan would jump start the process by reallocating a portion of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing to add capital to African-American banks and deposit fines collected by the Justice Department from predatory lending cases with those institutions.

Only two percent of SBA loans go to African-American businesses, an indication that other institutions are unwilling to meet the credit needs of black firms. The total loans outstanding have fallen by more than half since 2008 although there are 600,000 more blacks in business.

“The biggest math problem in America is that two percent of business loans does not meet the needs of nine percent of American businesses,” said Templeton.

English heads HUB initiative in North Carolina

Dennis English is the coordinator of North Carolina's historically underutilized business program in the Department of Administration.  The state scored 47 on the Black Business Affinity Index, ranking 20th among the states.

More than half of the states have statewide business inclusion initiatives. For policymakers and citizens who wonder how effective those efforts are, our annual state by state evaluation is a useful way to ascertain best practices.

We have distilled those into the ten key factors for black business success. Rating each state on a ten point scale for each factor, the State of Black Business arrives at a single rating which is then comparable to other states around the nation.

We have argued that there must be a shift from a compliance mentality to an economic development approach in order to create the jobs needed to undergird black neighborhoods.

In lean budget times, governors and legislatures of both parties are demanding results from business inclusion efforts. States which scaled these operations back have reversed course and put more resources into it.

The earlier chapters show both the potential and the unmet challenges of business inclusion. Public policy does create business opportunities for underrepresented companies. However, settling for raw revenue figures does not translate into opportunities in the fields which create the most jobs in the communities where they are needed most.

These are the factors which count:

Executive Leadership – Among the ten states with the greatest procurement spending with black-owned businesses, five are governed by Democrats and five are led by Republicans. Supporting business growth transcends ideological boundaries.

Legislative Authority – Many states have a legislative history of more than 30 years in support of business inclusion. These statutes have been maintained through party shifts, because they represent a broad consensus of state and local leadership.

Federal Procurement Success – States are taking a greater role to pursue business from the world’s largest customer, the U.S. federal government. Black businesses have federal contracts in every state in the nation.

Monitoring of State/Local Contracting – The states with the most success in providing supplier diversity have quarterly monitoring of results with specific breakdowns for African-American businesses, including new attention to spending with African-American female-owned businesses in some states.

Access to Capital – In Chapter 2, we described how states are stepping into the breach to provide loans and guarantees which can provide African-American businesses with the cash flow to compete. The need for this resource also crosses party lines.

Rate of Growth – The velocity of self-employment growth among African-Americans is an indicator of the policy environment that individual owners perceive. We’ve tracked these statewide figures for the past 10 years.

One-Stop Access – Minority businesses need a clear point of contact with government such as the maintained by the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs. As we travel around the country, we encounter many entrepreneurs unaware of services available in their own state or locality.

Ratio of black/white self-employment – Another statistical measure of how African-American businesses are included in the overall economy of a state. We find this number is closely correlated with disparate rates of unemployment.

Cultural Tourism – More than half of the states actively promote and preserve their African-American historic sites with festivals, museums, historic markers and online/print guides as a way to stimulate economic development.

Large-Scale Enterprises – Our focus on Job Creation and Innovation recognizes that millions of manufacturing jobs lost by African-Americans will not be replaced by small retail establishments alone. Communities need employment anchors based on manufacturing which responds to the basic needs of local, regional and global markets. Where these firms exist, smaller companies have a much greater chance to succeed.