Last week in D.C., Senator Mary Landrieu, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, hosted a summit focusing on issues that impact African-American small business owners working toward becoming entrepreneurs. The summit was titled, “Closing the Wealth Gap through the African-American Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.”
Specific issues included: access to capital; preservation and transferal of wealth; contracting; credit unions; private-public partnerships in government as well as historically black colleges and universities; and the access to information gap.
“Improving the African-American Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is about making America stronger. When we find strategic solutions to fix all parts of the economy, then the entire economy improves,” said Senator Landrieu. “An entrepreneurial ecosystem is defined as ‘a system formed by the interaction of a community with their environment’ and I look forward to finding legislative solutions to fix the racial wealth gap that hinders the African-American Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. I am determined to help eliminate this disparity.”
As time passes, the rest of the country is becoming aware of the growing small businesses throughout Louisiana. While the summit had a nationwide impact, it’s important to focus in on the businesses in the Silicon Bayou. There were a few mentions and participants that tie back to the state, including:
- The attendance of Baton Rouge’s Southern University’s Chancellor who mentioned Southern’s partnerships to strengthen small businesses.
- The strong New Orleans entrepreneurial community was highlighted with 14-year old Bridgeja’ Baker’s successful company and her national SCORE award.
- Former Mayor of New Orleans Marc Morial mentioning some of the programs that the National Urban League has been doing to close the racial wealth gap.
- FCC Commissioner Clyburn closing out the discussion regarding access to broadband. Today, only 64% of small businesses in Louisiana do not have an online presence.
- Senator Landrieu mentioning incubators and co-working spaces such as the IceHouse, Launch Pad and HUB New Orleans.
For a link to the full video of last week’s discussion, click here.