And White House Director of African American and Minority Business Outreach Michael Blake, in an interview with the Call & Post last week organized by State Representative Tracy Heard’s office, wanted to let African Americans know about it.
It is www.whitehouse.gov/africanamericans. The front page reads, ‘Winning the future: President Obama and the African-American community.’
“We encourage everyone to go to it now, so that they can find out at all times what’s happening,” said Blake, who was in Columbus to speak at the 2011 Ohio Business Opportunity Fair, hosted by the South Central Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council and the Northern Ohio Minority Supplier Development. “We can say, whether it be direct language or indirect, there are ways that we are helping the African-American community that people should be proud of, and more concretely, these are opportunities that help you the individual.”
What are some of those ways, you ask.
He explained that since Obama took office, the administration has focused a great deal on developing minority businesses through financing and grants in the amount of $7 billion funneled through the Minority Business Development Agency.
Of that total, $3.6 billion went to African-American businesses across the country, expanding growth opportunities for Black businesses by providing access to more capital, said Blake.
But at the same time, and more importantly, he urged African-Americans to go all-out and start taking advantage of these opportunities, noting, “The main thing we want people to realize is, policies are meant to help people, and these pieces [Obama administration policies] that have been passed, if you are not using them, someone else will.”
“So, let’s not miss out on these opportunities that are being provided.”
Still on jobs, Blake also said that about 3 million jobs have been created or saved “that would not have been here right now” if it wasn’t for the Recovery Act signed into law by President Obama. “That’s saving of teacher’s jobs, that’s creating infrastructure jobs that were not here before, that specifically impacted people in their respective communities,” he said.
A shoal of those jobs benefited African-Americans, Blake said, adding that while “some of these policies may not directly say African-American, it’s still benefiting our communities.”
He also said that 95 percent of families received tax cuts made possible by the Recovery Act, which pumped extra dollars in the pockets of struggling families, including African-American families.
“That practically matters,” said Blake. “That’s another gallon of gas, another loaf of bread, and a gallon of milk, something that’s tangible in their lives right now.”
On education, Blake said that $10 billion went out to Black colleges over “a ten-year span,” out of which $850 million went specifically to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Central State University and Wilberforce University here in Ohio.
These are financial opportunities they didn’t have before, said Blake, “There’s some practical things that are happening for the Black community.
He said that 32 million Americans now have access to health care coverage, including 7 million African-Americans.
Blake weighed in briefly on Ohio’s controversial Senate Bill 5, saying, “We support the rights of workers,” while pledging the Obama administration’s commitment to helping Ohioans keep their jobs and enhance their economic opportunities.
Asked when the president will embark on another trip to Africa, Blake replied, it is “not finalized.” But he added: “We have shown a very sincere and continued engagement with Africa,” particularly in the area of economic aid and support for elections to shore up Democratic governments there. He did not elaborate further.
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