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Feds Say They Want Stimulus Funds to Reach Minority-Owned Businesses

Hispaninc Business, News Report, Rob Kuznia Posted: Jul 04, 2009

The federal government is launching a campaign to put more stimulus money in the hands of minority-owned businesses, many of them reeling from this historic recession, now in its 20th month.

But an official with the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce says thus far, the stimulus money has eluded minority-run businesses in his beleaguered state.

"We've been contacted on multiple occasions by federal officials looking for success stories amongst small business owners, and we can't produce any, because we're not seeing any," Joel Ayala, president of the CHCC, told HispanicBusiness.com Thursday.

Meanwhile, during a press conference on Thursday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke -- the first Chinese-American to hold that post -- acknowledged that the federal government is a "huge bureaucracy."
As a result, he said, minority-owned firms often don't know how to access federal resources set aside for them.

"I know what a struggle it is," he said during the teleconference. "I had to work in my dad's grocery store for many, many years. ... My dad was a small-business owner, and was constantly struggling."

He said minority-business owners interested in applying for contracts from the Economic Recovery Act should visit the Web site of the Commerce Department's "Minority Business Development Agency," as well as .

He added that the department on Monday and Tuesday will be hosting a major national summit in Washington D.C. focusing on enabling minority-owned businesses to increase equity, secure contracts, expand their markets, and the like.

Locke stressed that minority contractors may find opportunities in a stimulus-funded initiative unveiled this week to bring broadband -- or high-speed -- Internet access to under-served areas. Applicants can begin applying for the grants on July 14, according to the Associated Press.

During the press conference, Locke also touted a Recovery Act success story, citing how the woman-owned Hispanic firm MRM recently landed a $12.7 million contract for construction work at an Air Force base in Arizona.

Ayala said that in California, the main problem with the stimulus-funded construction contracts is that the large companies are the ones snapping them up.

Many of the small companies, he said, are at an extreme disadvantage because banks have shut off the tap for credit. This means they have been unable to apply for many contracts, because to perform the jobs they'd first need a loan that would allow them to pay the necessary workforce.

Related Articles:

Hispanics and African-Americans Struggle to Stay Middle Class

Will Small Businesses Cash in on Stimulus Dollars?

Minority Small Businesses Key To Economy

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