For minority and women supplier diversity business entrepreneurs

SBA Spurs Economic Growth, Announces 50 Awards to Accelerators 

After reviewing more than 800 applications, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the 50 winners of their first Growth Accelerator Fund competition. The recipients represent 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The accelerators come from a broad set of industries and sectors - from manufacturing to tech start-ups to farming as well as a focus on a diversified range of demographic groups. 

Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched, and corporate sponsors obtained among other pieces of information. This will allow the SBA to create a useful database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. There are entrepreneurial activities taking place in all 50 states, but some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others.

To learn more and see the list of winners visit:


SBA to Award $8 Million to Promote Small Business Exporting

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that 24 awards would be made to states to support activities to increase exporting by small businesses. The State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program was appropriated $8 million to award by September 30, 2014. 

The STEP program has two objectives: 1) increase the number of small businesses that begin to export and 2) increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently export. The amount of awards will vary based on the awardees approved project plan and budget. Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administrations National Export Initiative. 

The 2014 awards are designed for states to assist small businesses with the following export related activities: participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the program.

For a list of awardees and more information on the STEP program, visit:


Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and San Francisco Examine Small Business Success


The Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and San Francisco recently teamed up with Pepperdine University and online lending resource FundWell to examine what makes a small business healthy. 

The resulting report, based on responses from more than 900 businesses nationwide, identified four key areas of financial health.

It also identified key differences between women and minority-owned businesses and male and non-minority-owned businesses. One key finding was that a significantly lower percentage of women and minority-owned businesses surveyed achieved above average or excellent financial health.

The full report can be downloaded here


NWBC Unveils New Research on Women's Access to Capital

The National Women's Business Council (NWBC) released new research on "High Growth Women-owned Business' Access to Capital." The report, prepared by Alicia Robb and Susan Coleman of Marin Economic Consulting Company, outlines the differences between men and women business owners regarding the scale of business growth, amount and sources of financial capital, and the relationship between the two. The report's findings on women's financial capital are sobering: on average, women received only two percent of total funding from outside equity. Among the most successful firms, men started their businesses with six times as much capital as women did. Women's access to capital remains one of the most significant barriers, and is too often the factor preventing the growth of women-owned small businesses. Within the report, the National Women's Business Council has proposed solutions for women entrepreneurs, advocates, funders and policy makers to remedy the issue of women's access to financial capital. 

Access to financial capital remains at the forefront of the NWBC's agenda. As the government's only independent voice on economic issues impacting women entrepreneurs, the NWBC will be sharing these report findings with Congress, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the White House, among others. The full report is available online at


Inclusion Initiative Companies Spend More than $250 Million in 2014 to Help Increase Diversity in the Legal Profession

Members of the Inclusion Initiative, a collaborative program among law departments at major corporations across the country, together spent more than $250 million with minority- and women-owned (MWBE) law firms in 2013 - far exceeding their $160 million goal.

The Inclusion Initiative was launched in 2010 by 11 large corporate law departments spanning various industries to help increase diversity in the legal profession by demonstrating the utility and cost-effectiveness of using MWBE law firms for a variety of complex legal matters. It is administered by the National Association of Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), which is comprised of 117 certified MWBE law firms covering 34 states.

Morgan Stanley and Nationwide joined the Inclusion Initiative earlier this year, bringing the total number of members to 30. The other participating companies are: 3M, Accenture, Aetna, Allstate, American Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Comcast, DuPont, Exelon, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Macy's, McDonald's Corporation, Merck, Microsoft, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Prudential Financial, Sempra Energy, Shell Oil Company, United Parcel Service, Verizon, Wal-Mart and Xerox.

For 2014, Inclusion Initiative members have set a collective goal of spending $178,650,000 on minority- and women-owned (MWBE) law firms.

The member companies in the Inclusion Initiative believe that diverse law firms are a critical part of the solution to the diversity challenge in the legal profession. The members also believe that diverse law firms provide a reliable pathway into the legal profession for law students and young lawyers from diverse backgrounds, and serve as a recruitment source for diversity in major law firms and the judiciary.


Cardenas, Dozens of Reps, Demand Potential Comcast-Time Warner Merger Protect Independent Latino Voices in Media

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-San Fernando Valley) and more than 50 of his House of Representatives colleagues sent a letter to the chairmen and CEOs of both Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable, regarding their concerns with the proposed merger of the two companies.

The letter, sent to Robert Marcus of Time Warner Cable and Brian Roberts of Comcast, expressed strong support for independent television program providers that cater to the Latino community in America, particularly those owned and controlled by Latinos.

It also called on the companies to make a formal commitment to carrying independent Latino program providers, including those owned and controlled by Latinos, and establishing clear safeguards to ensure these channels do not operate on an uneven playing field when compared with mainstream programming.

Members, including Cardenas, were concerned with the power one company could have over the programming their constituents receive and the access of the smaller, independent program providers to the marketplace. Should the merger go through as planned, Comcast would be the cable provider for as many as 90 percent of Latino pay TV subscribers nationwide. In some instances, Comcast would provide the only cable television service available, giving them incredible power to allow or deny diverse voices on the airwaves.

Cardenas has become a leading voice on issues related to media consolidation and vertical integration that can potentially harm consumers. Last week, he authored a letter to the Chairman of the FCC, calling for mediation in a dispute over carriage of Dodgers baseball games, which has been ongoing between Time Warner and L.A.-area cable and satellite operators.


Cantwell Introduces Legislation to Close the Gender Gap for Women Entrepreneurs 

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and John Walsh (D-MT) in introducing legislation aimed at giving women entrepreneurs equal treatment when it comes to starting and growing their own businesses.

The "Women's Small Business Ownership Act of 2014" (S. 2693) would improve access to lending and increase business counseling and training services for women entrepreneurs, and give women-owned businesses the same level of access to federal contracts as other disadvantaged groups.

The legislation adopts recommendations from a recent Senate Small Business Committee report that showed significant barriers for women looking to start or grow their own business. The report highlighted how women-owned businesses represent a $3 trillion economic force and support 23 million jobs, but still face significant barriers compared to their male-owned counterparts.

Women entrepreneurs account for just $1 out of every $23 in small business lending, despite representing 30 percent of all small companies. They are also more likely to be turned down for loans or face less favorable terms than men, according to the report, 21st Century Barriers to Women's Entrepreneurship.


Senate Approves Highway Trust Fund Patch: Major Changes to House-Passed Bill

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund and head off a looming slowdown of reimbursements for already underway federal-aid highway projects. 

The Senate began its debate by taking up the trust fund measure approved July 15 by the House of Representatives. Senators voted 71 to 26 to replace the House revenue provisions with the trust fund plan authored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Committee Ranking Republican Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Both the House bill and the Finance Committee proposal would generate $10.8 billion in additional resources for the Highway Trust Fund-an amount sufficient to maintain current levels of highway and public transportation investment through May 2015.

The Senate then approved an amendment from Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to reduce the amount of resources generated under the Finance Committee plan by $2.8 billion to $8 billion - an amount that would continue current trust fund operations through the end of 2014. The Carper-Corker-Boxer Amendment also reduced the House highway/transit program extension from May 31 to December 19. Senators Carper, Corker and Boxer took turns emphasizing the need to establish a long-term Highway Trust Fund solution later this year and that their proposal was essential to ending the cycle of short-term extensions and trust fund patches that have plagued the federal surface transportation programs for the past seven years.

It is clear a number of senators that supported both the Wyden-Hatch Amendment and the Carper-Corker-Boxer Amendment did so out of opposition to the use of "pension-smoothing" as a means to offset general fund transfers into the Highway Trust Fund. "Pension smoothing" allows companies to temporarily reduce their contributions to pension plans. Senators from both parties have decried the practice as a budget gimmick. The Wyden-Hatch alternative relies less on "pension smoothing" than the House bill, and the Carper-Corker-Boxer Amendment struck the entire $2.8 billion in "pension smoothing" that was contained in the Wyden-Hatch plan.


SBA Presents $3.5M in PRIME Grants

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced the 2014 recipients of SBA's Program for Investment in Micro Entrepreneurs Act (PRIME) grant awards. 

"PRIME grants are an important vehicle for the SBA to provide ladders of opportunity to underserved, economically disadvantaged small business communities. These micro-loans have a macro-impact by spurring economic growth, creating jobs, and propelling small businesses forward. This round of PRIME grants will help create more success stories across this city, this state and our nation." said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

PRIME grants are intended to help qualified community-based organizations provide training to small businesses with five or fewer employees that are economically disadvantaged, and businesses owned by low-income individuals, including those who live on Indian reservations and tribal lands. Twenty-four nonprofit organizations from 16 states and the District of Columbia were named this year. Grant awards ranged from $94,000 to $250,000 and totaled $3.5 million. The grants require a 50 percent matching funds contribution by each recipient organization.

This year, SBA focused the program on two technical assistance approaches to strengthening business success:

"Helping entrepreneurs implement automated financial accounting, financial reporting and inventory management systems; and,

"Promoting and assisting in the development of worker ownership and worker-owed cooperatives, especially in low income and underserved communities.

Last year, the SBA broke its record for lending to Hispanic-owned businesses by supporting nearly 3,400 loans totaling more than $850 million dollars to Hispanic-owned businesses. Additionally, the SBA provided counseling and training to more than 55,000 Hispanic entrepreneurs.

Overall, Hispanics are starting and growing new businesses at nearly twice the rate of the general population. Hispanic small business owners play an integral role in the U.S economy and are continuously helping the economy recover from the Great Recession.

For more information on PRIME grants and a list of this year's awardees, visit



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