ICYMI: USPAACC National President and CEO Susan Au Allen’s Op-ed on the importance of minority business certification featured in the Washington Business Journal

Viewpoint: Feds must step up contracting with more diverse businesses By Susan Au Allen, March 24, 2023

Minority-owned businesses are a big deal for America’s economy. How big? They’re $1.4 trillion-big in annual economic output to the economy, directly accounting for 7.2 million U.S. jobs, according to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).

Furthermore, minority-owned businesses are twice as likely to export as non-minority companies, three times as likely to have international operations, six times as likely to transact business in a foreign language, and are export leaders in 14 key industrial sectors, as reported by the MBDA.

Yet, despite these impressive figures, noted the White House, less than 10% of total eligible federal agency contracting dollars had previously made its way to Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs), a category under federal law that Black-owned, Hispanic-owned, Pan Asian American-owned and Native American-owned businesses are supposed to be eligible for. In fact, for them, the figure is far less than 10%.

According to the White House, federal contract spending for SDBs in FY 2020 was 1.7% for Black-owned small businesses, 1.8% for Hispanic-owned small businesses and 2.8% for Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned small businesses. Altogether, that is only 6.3%! Additionally, while women own roughly 20% of all small businesses economy-wide, less than 5% of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses.

Without question, there is a huge disconnect between fact and practice, in ensuring a continuum of support for Minority-Owned Businesses (MBE) and Small Disadvantaged Businesses. That disconnect should be corrected, ASAP, if we are to extend opportunity, equality, and prosperity for all.

President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government” promised overdue, historic change that presented incredible new opportunities for minority businesses to access the federal multibillion-dollar supply chain. He followed up on that initiative by announcing the federal government’s goal of increasing the share of contracts awarded to small, disadvantaged businesses to 15% by 2025 and directed federal agencies to assess tools for increasing opportunities for small businesses and traditionally underserved entrepreneurs competing for valuable contracts. USPAACC applauds the president’s continued leadership on these fronts.

Recognizing the vital role of minority-owned businesses is particularly important in the District, where minority ownership of businesses translates to 25,666 owned by African Americans, 5,313 owned by Hispanic/Latinos, 4,746 owned by Asians, 40 owned by Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, and 171 owned by American Indians and Alaska natives. Ensuring these businesses have access to more opportunities is of paramount importance.

With a new Congress, USPAACC believes now is not the time to retreat from supporting and strengthening minority-owned and small disadvantaged businesses. Now is the time for continued bipartisan leadership from the federal government’s legislative and executive branches. America should double down on proven policies and programs that help MBEs and SDBs, and traditionally underserved or unserved communities.

USPAACC’s Asian American/Minority-Owned Business Certification has successfully certified 2,000 Asian American-owned businesses, connecting them with Fortune 1000 corporations, government entities, and large nonprofits.

Our country has seen recent progress in helping minority-owned businesses, and President Biden’s Executive Order 13985 has been a game-changer, opening up opportunities for MBEs and SDBs. However, with the risk of a recession looming, now is the time for America to double down on recent gains and make supporting minority-owned businesses a top bipartisan priority for the 118th Congress.

Susan Au Allen is national president and CEO of the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation in D.C.


Founded in 1984 in the nation’s capital, USPAACC is the most established, effective national nonprofit nonpartisan business organization representing the unified voice for equal opportunity for Pan Asian American/AAPI and Pan Asian American/AAPI-related groups in business, sciences, the arts, sports, education, public and community services. Visit https://uspaacc.com/.

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