OFFICIAL: BUSH COMMITTED TO MINORITY BUSINESS

May 27, 2001 – A Bush administration official on St. Thomas to participate in a minority business conference says the Republican administration is committed to including more minorities as stakeholders in the U.S. economy.
Ronald Langston, who heads the U.S. Commerce Department's Minority Business Development Agency, said, "We need to make sure that minority entrepreneurs have help, that their skills be developed. There are a lot of opportunities that should not be missed."
Appearing on Radio One's "Topp Talk" show Friday, Langston said the administration's minority development emphasis is on programs to help such businesses establish themselves as integral players in the overall economy, with a vested interest in how that economy is managed. "Our focus is to make sure that the minority business owners become stakeholders," he said.
He said a part of the effort is to promote greater partnership with established businesses to learn the in's and out's of successful entrepreneurship."We want them to become business owners, not renters, not continued lessors," he said of minority entrepreneurs. And, he said, his agency is prepared to offer training and mentoring programs toward that end.
"There are pockets of poverty in America," he said."They must be overcome."
Langston believes he has a unique opportunity to help the most financially successful generation of African-Americans to sustain their economic gains and pass them on to future generations. "We are the first generation to have accumulated wealth," he said. "We must capitalize on that in order to advance the state of minority-owned businesses."
Republicans and Democrats disagree on whether Americans will reinvest their tax-cut windfall or spend it. Langston defends the GOP view that people want to put their money to work and make it grow. "We must seize the opportunity to reinvest the wealth that has been accumulated over time," he said.
While the Republican administration of which he is a part does not embrace affirmative action, Langston readily acknowledges the negative impact of past racial discrimination. "One of the biggest impediments has been the lack of access to capital," he said. "African-Americans have consistently been denied financing. We want to break down that wall."
The Minority Business Development Agency, he said, is helping businesses get over that hurdle.
Langston was in the territory last week at the invitation of Delegate Donna Christian Christensen. He participated in a conference at Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort that was organized to promote minority business access to federal contracts.

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