Biden takes credit for Black small business boom in America

President Joe Biden is taking credit for what the Biden-Harris administration says has been a boom for Black-owned small businesses, which have seen the fastest-growing pace in over 30 years.

“I’m here to celebrate the progress we’re making support Black small businesses here and around the country,” Biden said on Wednesday during his trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to highlight the administration’s billions of dollars of investments in Black entrepreneurship.

The president added, “When Black small businesses grow…the community benefits, everyone benefits.”

Biden noted that since he and Vice President Kamala Harris took office, America saw a record 15 million new applications to start businesses. The White House said Black households owning a business doubled between 2019 and 2022 after plummeting between 2007 and 2019.

The Biden-Harris administration has endeavored to level the economic playing field for Black Americans, particularly those in business. 

Those actions include a record $70 billion in federal contracts awarded to small, disadvantaged businesses and $12 billion in investments in community lenders to expand access to capital and resources, which is expected to increase community lending to nearly $80 billion over 10 years. 

“When Black-owned businesses do well, they create jobs,” said Stephen Benjamin, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and senior adviser to the president, during a press call Wednesday morning ahead of Biden’s trip.

The former mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, added, “We generate wealth in our own communities, and we make the broader economy that much stronger.”

Stephen Benjamin (right), senior adviser to the president, addresses an August briefing with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. He touted Black businesses this week ahead of a presidential trip. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

According to a survey of consumer finances from the Federal Reserve Board, between 2019 and 2022, wealth for the typical Black family rose 61%. 

That encouraging news, along with historic lows in Black unemployment achieved this year, is being touted by the White House as a direct result of the Biden-Harris administration’s investments through key legislation, including the pandemic stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment law, and the CHIPS and Science Act, which is injecting federal dollars into the semiconductor manufacturing industry to create jobs and build up the U.S. supply chain. 

During Wednesday’s White House press call, Michael Negron, special assistant to the president for economic policy at the National Economic Council, highlighted how federal spending secured by Biden has made a real difference in the lives of Black Americans. 

That spending, coupled with the $1,400 stimulus checks issued to 85% of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and the child tax credit that reduced poverty for Black children, gave them “additional cushion” and encouraged them to “take a chance and start a new business.”

Natalie Madeira Cofield, a former Small Business Administration assistant administrator, said the Biden-Harris administration has “undoubtedly made many policy and programmatic strides aimed to address continued entrepreneurial inequity.”

The business adviser and entrepreneur added, “The challenge, however, remains the continuation of these efforts in a new and ever-changing legal environment.”

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Cofield said that while there are efforts to increase contracting and procurement opportunities for small Black businesses, recent reports reveal “stagnant and paltry Black business procurement utilization in relation to the size and scale of the available population of qualified and capable businesses.”   

“Addressing systematic small business inequity requires systems change, something this administration has shown it is willing to address,’” she added, “yet needs continued support and consistency of policy and program longevity to see real gains from.”

While in Milwaukee, a majority Black and brown city in a battleground state he will need for reelection, Biden also took the opportunity to spotlight direct investments his administration has made in Wisconsin’s most populous city. 

“President Biden’s agenda is lifting up small Black-owned businesses in our community and encouraging entrepreneurship, delivering for Milwaukee,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., said in a statement provided to theGrio. “We are seeing the investments…bear fruit, producing record-level employment levels, increasing the number of business applications, and deploying more resources to address the lead public health crisis in Milwaukee.”

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., said the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda “is lifting up small Black-owned businesses in our community.” (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Before his remarks in Milwaukee, the president met with small business owner Rashawn Spivey, who founded Hero Plumbing, which is working to replace lead pipes across the city.

Spivey, who introduced Biden during his Wednesday visit, said thanks to the president’s investments, his company has been able to replace 600 lead pipes, mostly located at child care centers.

“Not only has our business grown, but we’re helping to save our community,” he said, adding that the Biden-Harris administration is “helping us all become part of an economy that works for everyone so their dreams can be achieved with dignity.”

While promoting his investments in Black-owned small businesses, Biden took the opportunity to tout the $15 billion his administration is spending from the infrastructure law to “replace every lead pipe in every community in this country.” 

The president also slammed his likely 2024 presidential opponent, former President Donald Trump, for his role in abandoning Black- and other minority-owned businesses while in office.

“On his watch, women and minority-owned small businesses found themselves last in line in access and emergency relief through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program [PPP],” said Biden. “On my watch, energy and emergency relief went to minority-owned businesses first, not last.”

President Joe Biden takes the stage Wednesday to speak on his economic policies at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden also more broadly called out Republicans, who he said are “against so many critical actions that help working- and middle-class people, especially Black Americans.”

“Some in this country are waging a full-on attack on Black economic opportunity,” said Biden. “They’re denying economic opportunity when it comes to higher education, starting a business [and] keeping the businesses open.” 

The president seemingly referred to a Supreme Court order over the summer that significantly handicapped affirmative action in college admissions. Additionally, he lamented another SCOTUS ruling that blocked his more than $400 billion in student debt relief. 

“The Supreme Court ruled against it, but I still got 136 million people debt relief,” Biden said of the various Department of Education programs that have successfully provided debt forgiveness to many Americans, including those in public service and victims of predatory institutions. 

Biden also sought to tie his economic agenda to the rising bans of Black history and books by Black authors.

“These attacks hurt all Americans because investing in Black economic prosperity lifts everybody up,” he said.

The president said that while he and Vice President Harris have been able to increase Black wages and capital for Black small businesses, he vowed that there will be more to come. 

“We’re just getting started,” said the president. 

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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President Joe Biden is taking credit for the fastest-growing pace of Black-owned small businesses in over 30 years, attributing it to the billions of dollars of investments in Black entrepreneurship by the Biden-Harris administration. The administration has awarded record federal contracts to small, disadvantaged businesses, invested in community lenders, and provided stimulus checks and child tax credits to reduce poverty for Black families. The investments have led to a 61% increase in wealth for the typical Black family and historic lows in Black unemployment. The administration is also spending $15 billion from the infrastructure law to replace lead pipes in communities. While touting these achievements, Biden criticized former President Donald Trump for abandoning minority-owned businesses and called out Republicans for denying economic opportunities for Black Americans. He also emphasized his administration’s efforts to increase Black wages and support Black small businesses, with a promise of more to come. This progress has been lauded by individuals and lawmakers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the administration is focused on continuing to address systemic small business inequity.

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