The National Black Chamber of Commerce Mulls Entrepreneurship Initiative
The National Black Chamber of Commerce is devising a national program to incubate new businesses in abandoned public housing facilities and vacant high school buildings located in distressed communities. The core of the business will be the marketing and distribution of products imported from liaisons in Africa. Products such as coffee, tea, spices and apparel will be imported and then packaged and sold by the new entrepreneurs created by the program. www.nationalbcc.org .
SBA Changes Rules to Assist Small IT Businesses and Testing Labs
The U.S. Small Business Administration established a new industry category, Information Technology Value Added Resellers, and set the maximum size standard to qualify as small at 150 employees. Under the new rule, a small business will be classified as an IT Value Added Reseller if it provides IT equipment and multivendor hardware and software, along with significant services, on a federal contract. The SBA also increased its receipts-based size standard for small businesses in the testing lab industry, from $6 million in average annual receipts to $10 million. The changes are expected to help more small IT businesses and testing labs qualify for SBA contracting opportunities and assistance.
North America's Largest Railroad Increases Its Spending with M/WBEs
Union Pacific Corp., which operates North America's largest railroad, said it increased its 2003 supplier diversity spending by $44 million over 2002. The railroad spent $207 million with minority- and women-owned businesses during 2003, an increase of 27 percent over the $163 million spent in 2002. Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific is the only railroad active on the National Minority Supplier Development Council and its supplier diversity program is the oldest of the nation's railroads.
Study Finds Black Women Are Major Earners, Family Decision Makers
African-American women's share of the Black population's earning and purchasing power is significantly higher than that of women in other population groups, a study by market research publisher Packaged Facts shows. The U.S. African American Market reports that the aggregate income of Black women is equal to 49% of the total income of the Black population, while Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women account for about one-third of aggregate income for their respective groups. It says African-American women are also more likely than women in other population groups to be key decision makers in their households for a wide range of products and services, including health-care plans, financial services, home electronics, mobile/wireless services, computer equipment, automobiles and major purchases like homes.
The Sallie Mae Fund to Award $2.5 Million in Scholarships
The Sallie Mae Fund plans to award more than $2.5 million in scholarships in 2004 to help enroll students in college through its community-based initiative, Project Access. Project Access targets underserved populations to increase access to higher education by addressing three key barriers: awareness of financial aid, academic performance and financial need. The scholarship campaign is part of the project's three-year, $15 million initiative. www.thesalliemaefund.org