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Outreach Urged at Summit

Minorities: Black entrepreneurs gather to better their businesses.


African American entrepreneurs are succeeding as never before, but their companies are still not growing as fast as other minority businesses, black business owners were told Friday at a national symposium in Irvine.

Black business owners must search for opportunities "outside your class, socioeconomic groups and color," author George Fraser told 500 entrepreneurs at the fourth-annual African American Business Summit at the Irvine Hyatt Regency.

"There's no way you can attain success, sustain success and maintain success in a vacuum on your own. You need to work with or through other people to truly make it," said Fraser, author of "Success Runs in Our Race: The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African-American Community."

Fraser was one of several authors, politicians and business leaders at the three-day event ending today.

At a breakfast, state Treasurer Philip Angelides got a standing ovation when he outlined a state and private-sector initiative to invest $8 billion in state funds in economically deprived communities to stimulate growth.

With black entrepreneurship generally thriving, the mood was upbeat at the conference, which included workshops on networking, landing corporate and government contracts and raising money.

The number of African American businesses jumped 94% to 823,500 from 1987 to 1997, according to census data. The economic boom through much of the 1990s fueled the growth, said E. Lance McCarthy, president of Development Associates Ltd., a Beverly Hills consulting firm for minority businesses.

"This is the best time in history to be a black entrepreneur," he said.

Despite the uptick, black entrepreneurs lag other ethnic groups in creating new businesses. The number of Asian-owned businesses jumped 180% to 832,000 in the same 10-year period. Hispanic enterprises increased 184% to 1.2 million.

Access to capital is the "last great barrier to black economic success and empowerment," said Philip A. Lowe, president of Lowe & Associates Financial Group in Culver City, a black-owned firm with $300 million under management. He blamed "ingrained racism" for limiting financing for black business owners.

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