Garrett Participates In Senate Roundtable On Jobs In African-American Community

By:  Staff Writer
Source: The Seattle Medium

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, during a Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach 

Committee in the U.S. Capitol building, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
joined a Seattle small business owner and other African American business
leaders for a roundtable discussion on economic development in the African
American business community.

Cantwell invited Ollie Garrett, president of Tabor 100 located in the Seattle area, to speak at the roundtable, entitled “Job Creation and Economic Development in the African-American Community.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other U.S. Senators attended the meeting.

Tabor 100 is an organization that advocates on behalf of African American business interests and fosters opportunities for business growth as well as supports scholarships for minority students.

The economic downturn severely impacted the African American community, as evidenced by record-high unemployment which hit a high of 16.7 percent. A fact sheet released this week in observance of Black History Month by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee stated that the unemployment rate for African American workers fell in January to the lowest level in nearly three years. Although the unemployment rate for African American workers remains significantly higher than it was when the recession began, the decline in January to 13.6 percent is welcome news but signals the need for continued job creation efforts.

“I want to welcome Ollie Garrett to our nation’s capital today and thank her for
traveling all the way from Seattle to talk about the very important topic of job
creation,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, member of the Senate Small Business
Committee. “Our top priority is growing our economy and expanding opportunities
for the nation’s job creators to grow and hire. We fought hard to pass into law
the Small Business Jobs Act, which is helping to create jobs in communities
across America. But there is still more work to be done, and we need to continue
to support minority-owned small businesses. We heard a lot of good ideas today
and I look forward to taking them back to the Small Business Committee as we
continue to work on ways to spur economic growth on Main Street.”

“The biggest problem we’re seeing within the African American small business
community is inability to access capital,” said Garrett. “These are tough credit
times, and access to capital is a huge issue. We need to expand access to
capital for small businesses and especially minority-owned businesses, and we
need to support more minority contracting opportunities. And most importantly,
we need better accountability in all of these federal programs to guarantee
minority-owned small businesses get a fair shake.”

Other participants in the discussion included Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies; Melvin E. Clark, Jr., chief executive officer of G.W. Peoples
Contracting Company; Ralph B. Everett, president of the Joint Center for
Political and Economic Studies; Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake, senior pastor of the
Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York; and Cheryl Snead, chief executive
officer of Banneker Industries, among others.

Cantwell, a member of the Senate Small Business and Finance committees, has long championed measures that get businesses hiring and investing again.