According to the federal Department of Commerce, more than nine million minority-owned firms in the United States employ nearly half of the private sector workforce and contribute $1.7 trillion to the economy.

   In the Greater Baltimore area, minorities comprise more than 43 percent of the total population and own about 22 percent of startup businesses.

   Minority Business Development Agency Director Miguel Estien said President Joe Biden has made clear that his administration remains committed to not just rebuilding to how things were before COVID-19 but to building back better and more equitably.

   He said the Build Back Better legislation passed by the House and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill signed into law earlier this month accomplishes just that.

   “For over 50 years, the agency has existed, and this week it’s become a permanent agency as a product of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill,” Estien remarked. 

   “That means minority business owners now have a permanent agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that is coordinating policy to support your growth.”

   He said the Build Back Better Bill funds the agency and emphasized many of the vital components of the legislation, which now must pass the U.S. Senate.

   The Build Back Better bill lowers prescription drugs, health care, and housing costs.

   The White House said the measure “gets Americans back to work by providing childcare and care for seniors so workers can get back on the job knowing their loved ones have the care they need.”

   The bill cuts taxes for working families and the middle class – including extending the Child Tax Credit that is already helping the families of more than 61 million children and getting us closer to cutting child poverty in half this year.

According to the bill’s text, as passed by the House, the measure provides universal pre-Kindergarten for every 3-and 4-year-old in America. 

   In addition, it makes education beyond high school more affordable – with historic investments in Pell Grants and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and other Minority Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

   “It goes broader than our agency. The administration is recognizing that this is investing in our people,” Estien insisted. “They are making sure that the individuals we hire as business owners have access to healthcare; that our kids get access to pre-K, and our elderly receive the support they need in their older age.”

   Estien further stated that the Build Back Better bill shows that the administration is doing everything in its power to help minority-owned businesses succeed.

   “This is not only about the business community, but the people we work with, the members of our community,” Estien declared. 

When President Biden took office in January, the nation faced a series of crises, including COVID, economic, climate, and equity, Estien noted.

   He said people of color, women, and underserved communities had been disproportionately affected by all those crises.

   “If we were to close the disparities that exist, we would add $5 trillion to our economy,” Estien said. 

   “So, support your local community businesses, particularly if it is minority-owned because by doing so, you are adding dollars back into the U.S. economy. In doing so, we are securing jobs for our communities and prosperity for our families.”  

Stacy M. Brown
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