Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on state of small businesses
Secretary Locke says small and minority-owned businesses among first to recover from economic downturn.
The following is not a full transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
Earlier this month, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, along with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, hosted a clean energy forum in Saginaw to tout the importance of President Obama's clean energy plan, which could lead to thousands of jobs and contracts for American businesses.
This comes on the heels of the Department of Commerce holding its annual National Minority Enterprise Development Conference in Washington, D.C. Minority business owners all across the country have been closely monitoring the President's plans, and how they might impact their respective industries.
"We know that many of them are struggling, along with small- and medium-sized companies all around the country," said Locke. "The encouraging thing is that for many minority companies, they are among the first to recover. We are really focused on helping them help lead America's recovery and growth. Many of them are the young entrepreneurs, the new entrepreneurs."
But he concedes that these businesses are the exceptions: "They are not typical of all of them, and it is not to say that all minority companies are starting to grow again and seeing some optimistic signs. The truth is that a lot of job losses in the last year, or in the year 2008, came from small businesses, and we know that so many of our small businesses are minority-owned. Often times it is because they have very little capital to work on; they have all of the bills that come due, but a lot of their suppliers or people that bought their services or products have not been paying up in a timely fashion."
While the picture is gloomy for many, Locke believes there are some promising signs for others. "Some of the ones I have talked to ... especially the ones at the conference, say that they are beginning to see some signs of good hope, of turnaround."
Many of the firms that he spoke to are in the technology-related fields, or are direct beneficiaries of "shovel-ready" construction projects that are coming out of the Stimulus Package.
With the stimulus funds now flowing to states and cities, Locke feels that the Commerce Department has a role in making sure the recovery and success is shared across all groups.
"We're really emphasizing the need to have minority businesses participating and receiving these federal stimulus dollars. We can't force contractors to sub-contract with minority firms, we don't have set-asides and goals, but we are really trying to emphasize that. The President and the Vice-President keep saying how absolutely important it is that minority firms share in this economic recovery."
"The Tavis Smiley Show" is a weekly show offering a unique blend of news and newsmakers in expanded conversations, along with feature reports and regular commentators. "The Tavis Smiley Show" is produced by Tavis Smiley productions, and distributed nationwide by PRI.