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Last Chance to Tell Obama to Keep Minority Business Program

November 8, 2011

Petaluma, Calif. – The following is a statement by the American Small Business League:

Today is the final day to comment on proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that will eliminate one of the most important contracting programs for minority-owned small businesses. Minority business owners can submit comments via the Federal Register.

Friday, September 9 the Obama administration announced plans to end a federal program that established a five percent minority-owned small business federal contracting goal for the Department of Defense, NASA and the U.S. Coast Guard. The proposal deletes several mechanisms of help for minority-owned small businesses from the FAR without providing a new effort to help qualified businesses.

The proposed changes are the result of a 2008 court case that ruled certain federal programs benefitting minority-owned small businesses unconstitutional. Noted federal contracting expert professor Charles Tiefer has written an opinion on the proposed changes, which can be read here. He states, “It is a broad purge. The proposed regulations take an axe to the concept of a high-visibility program implementing a high-visibility goal.”

The American Small Business League (ASBL) has been campaigning in recent months to block the proposed change to the FAR and has received support from several organizations, including the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 35 percent of the U.S. population is made up of ethnic minorities. Almost six million businesses are minority-owned. The ASBL estimates that if the policy is implemented, minority-owned small businesses could lose billions of dollars in federal contracts annually, which could lead to the loss of millions of jobs.

This shocking move comes at a time when unemployment has hit minority groups especially hard. According the U.S. Department of Labor, the jobless figure for African Americans is 15.1 percent and 11.4 among Hispanics.

“It is unbelievable that, during one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, the Obama administration would allow vital programs that help create jobs for minorities to fall,” said ASBL President Lloyd Chapman. “Minority business owners need to tell the administration that we need these programs.”

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