Monday, October 23, 2006

Jesse Jackson Announces Plan to Help Small Businesses

While it is true that Bob Johnson is investing in infrastructure and Jesse Jackson is investing in small business, it is important to note Jackson's emphasis on the African American population.


By CLAUDIA H. DEUTSCH
The New York Times

The Rev. Jesse Jackson acknowledges that minorities have made lots of progress in the last few decades. But he is still frustrated by the slow pace.

So Mr. Jackson is stepping back into the arena. In January, his Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project, which he founded 10 years ago to prod American corporations into investing in minority businesses, will introduce the Small Business Institute. The institute will have a two-part goal: to teach entrepreneurship skills to teenagers, immigrants and minorities, and to prompt financial institutions to provide them with easier access to capital.

“The ghettos and barrios are underserved markets with untapped spending power,” he said, “so we’re going to take Wall Street to Main Street. We give microloans in third world countries; why not in East Harlem?”

The need for assistance, he argued, is every bit as great as it was before civil rights legislation ended formal discrimination. Most studies of small business show that minorities are starting businesses at twice the rate of whites, he noted, and that ghetto businesses commonly employ people from the neighborhood.

Still, he asserted, white restaurateurs like Danny Meyer — who started the Union Square Cafe and a succession of other Manhattan restaurants — have little trouble opening restaurants in New York, yet the Woods family, which runs the popular Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem, still has only one restaurant in New York. Percy E. Sutton, a black former Manhattan borough president, had to go to more than 50 banks before he could get a loan to buy a black radio station, Mr. Jackson said.


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