About 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, and 13 percent is black. In federal small-business contracting, award ratios for those groups are in the single digits.
Small businesses, called the “drivers and engines of growth” by President Barack Obama, attracted about $98.2 billion in government awards last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Hispanic-owned companies won about 8.4 percent of that total, or $8.21 billion, while black-operated small businesses won about 7.2 percent, or $7.1 billion.
“The needle hasn’t moved,” said Ruth Sandoval, president of the National Hispanic Business Group, a New York-based organization representing business owners.
The gap may reflect stiffer competition over a shrinking pool of contract revenue as agencies cut spending. Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses also may have difficulty breaking into the $512 billion market because acquisition officers don’t have a mechanism to specifically target those companies.
Small businesses are generally defined by the government as having fewer than 500 employees or less than $7 million in average annual sales.
Contracts for black-owned small companies declined about 1 percent in the year that ended Sept. 30, 2012 from the previous fiscal year. Awards to the Hispanic-owned businesses rose 1.5 percent — a gain that wasn’t enough to compensate for a bigger drop in fiscal 2011, according to federal procurement data.
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