Regulatory Review and Reform
The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration urges small business owners to nominate federal regulations needing review and reform at the Web site, www.sba.gov/advo/r3 . A recent Government Accountability Office report found that agency implementation of reviews mandated by section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires agencies to periodically examine their existing regulations and consider ways to minimize the burden on small business, often suffers from a lack of clear standards, insufficient public participation, and inadequate communication of the results to stakeholders. The office of Advocacy puts the cumulative burden of complying with federal regulations at more than $1.1 trillion per year, with small business owners bearing the brunt of that burden since they pay 45 percent more per employee than big businesses do.
Fading to White
notDemographers say if current trends continue, the District of Columbia could lose its longtime majority-black status by 2015. The changes are shaking up city politics, reshaping neighborhoods and displacing longtime residents. Washington’s black population peaked at 71 percent in 1970, but by 2006 had fallen to 57 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of white residents, which plunged from 65 percent in 1950 to 27 percent 30 years later, was estimated at 38 percent by 2006. The city’s Asian and Hispanic populations also are climbing. Analysts attribute the shift to lower-income and middle-class black residents leaving for the suburbs while young white professionals and others able to afford expensive housing are moving in.
Not-So-Black New Orleans
New Orleans is narrowly retaining a Black majority after Hurricane Katrina, according to a study by the Brookings Institution. The study determined that while Blacks left the city at a much faster rate than whites, New Orleans was still 58 percent Black during 2006. Before Katrina, which hit Aug. 29, 2005, the city was 67 percent Black, according to the U.S. census. While several studies have examined utility hookups and postal deliveries to estimate the population that has returned to New Orleans since Katrina, the Brookings Institution study is the first comprehensive look at the shifting demographics since the storm. Through a special arrangement with the U.S. Census Bureau,
Brookings gleaned statistics from new census data that the institution called a “fuller picture on who moved out and who is coming back.”
The Federal Reserve Board’s report on 2006 data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act shows that, once again, African American and Latino families receive a disproportionate share of higher-cost, subprime home loans. The data released by the Fed today show that a majority of African-American homeowners last year received a higher-rate loan. Latino families didn't fare much better. This contrasts sharply with white non-Hispanic families, of whom slightly less than 22 percent received high-cost loans.
The PC Gap
An American Library Association study finds that most public libraries have no immediate plans to add computers, even though YouTube, online job applications and homework help sites have boosted demand and contributed to lines for Internet access at public libraries. Many library systems say their buildings simply do not have enough room and their electrical wiring cannot deliver the required power. Others are already struggling to stay open, buy books and encourage youths to read. The ALA study finds the average number of public Internet terminals largely unchanged since 2002, yet only one in five libraries say they have enough computers to meet demand at all times.
Change Has Come
The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which was born out of the struggle by Blacks for a fair share of Indianapolis’ construction market, says that the city today is a national model for diversity, with the Indiana Stadium and Convention and Building Authority leading the way. The Authority is utilizing the construction management expertise of SR Smoot Construction Co., a Chamber charter member, for the Lucas Oil Stadium, the new home for the Indianapolis Colts, and the construction management expertise of Powers and Sons Construction Co., another Chamber charter member, for the $275 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. Both venues have aggressive contracting and subcontracting monitoring programs that will assure more than 15 percent local minority contracting, the Chamber says.
In 2002, the latest year for which U.S. Census data is available, minorities owned nearly 20 percent of the nation’s franchised businesses; females owned 25 percent; and 17 percent were equally male and female owned, according to the International Franchise Association’s Educational Foundation. Based on data from the Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey of Business Owners, the report gives the first comprehensive look at the composition of the franchising industry by minority and gender groups. Franchised businesses account for nearly 10 percent of the U.S. private-sector economy.
Gift of Oral Histories
The National Visionary Leadership Project, co-founded by Camille O. Cosby and former television network correspondent Renee Poussaint, donated more than 200 original videotaped interviews with prominent and lesser-known African-Americans to the Library of Congress. Housed in the American Folklife Center, these oral histories are the seed of what is expected to be an open collection that will grow in the coming years. They include interviews with Maya Angelou, Ray Charles, Shirley Chisholm, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Katherine Dunham, Myrlie Evers-Williams, John Hope Franklin, Dorothy Height, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Coretta Scott King, Joseph Lowery, Toni Morrison, Gordon Parks, Sidney Poitier, Charles Rangel, Percy Sutton, Douglas Wilder and Andrew Young. Transcripts of the interviews and photographs of the interviewees are included in the donation.
The Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service’s jointly published newsletter is designed to assist small businesses with tax filing and compliance. The SSA/IRS Reporter carries general information about best payroll and employment tax practices and SSA products and services, such as changes in forms for reporting employee wages, W-2 Online, SSA filing procedures and Business Services Online. It also includes timely information from the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, and other government agencies. Issues of the newsletter are posted at www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=109886,00.html  in English and Spanish.
Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. said their Thai joint venture would invest more than $500 million in a new small car production plant. The investment will increase production capacity at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant to 275,000 vehicles from 175,000. Ford and Mazda will start production at the plant in 2009 with the low-cost compact cars destined for domestic sales and markets in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Thailand is a major production and export hub for pickup trucks. Production at the AutoAlliance plant in Rayong province in eastern Thailand is made up of Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 pickups, as well as the Ford Everest SUV.
South Africa’s Nama tribe won back diamond-rich land confiscated by a government mining company more than 80 years ago. The Nama lodged a claim to the land in 1997, saying they were forced to relocate to harsh desert dozens of miles away after mineral rights were awarded to Alexkor Ltd., an entity set up in 1927 in the town of Alexander Bay as a work program for poor whites. Some $2.7 billion worth of diamonds reportedly were removed from the land since then. The government agreed to restore the 330-square-mile northern coastal strip to the tribe and pay $28 million compensation and millions more in development funding. Alexkor and the Nama will enter into a joint mining venture, in which Alexkor will hold a 51 percent interest.