Prosperity Blog Fun with Search Referrers

March 4, 2011

I know this guy who runs a website called Bridge and Tunnel Club, which is sort of an all-encompassing resource on New York City and its environs. Because of the comprehensive nature of the site, it often comes up in the listings when people do their internet searches (hopefully on Bing). And so he made a different website called “ Search Referrers of the Day,” where he lists, analyzes and often answers various queries that get referred to his site. I happen to think it’s laugh out loud hilarious, but you all know how weird my sense of humor is.

For a fun Friday activity, let’s play the Prosperity Blog’s version of Search Referrers of the Day. Specifically, here are some of the most interesting ones we’ve gotten this week:

Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly C-POW: Bad News for the Minority-Owned Business Community

February 25, 2011

Sometimes the Weekly “Controversial Proposal of the Week” feature here on the Prosperity Blog earns its name because I say something controversial (like when I said we might have too many economic development organizations in the region). Sometimes, it’s because I’m just referring to something that’s – in itself – controversial. Like a ripped from the headlines story like the big scandal in the news this week about the Seattle Public School and its Regional Small Business Development Program.

We don’t know what the ultimate consequences for the school district will be. But what we can know for certain is that this is going to be bad news for the minority owned business community. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly REDEW: 2010 Western Washington Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Awards

October 8, 2010

Yes, that’s right. It’s time again for your weekly “Random Economic Development Email of the Week” or REDEW, where I share some of the strange things that come into my inbox and then riff on their relation to regional economic development.  I know you’ve been waiting excitedly since last week’s debut. This week’s winner: an invitation to the 2010 Western Washington Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Awards! Read the rest of this entry »

Hopeful Signs For Small Business Growth

January 21, 2010

As we all try to look ahead and see what the New Year has in store for this region’s economy there are some less visible but possibly more promising early signs of recovery. At the end of 2009 the Business and Economic Development Center celebrated the successes of small businesses from across the state at the 11th annual UW Minority Business of the Year Awards banquet. The 550+ attendees celebrated the incredible growth that minority-owned businesses have had in this state:

  • When the awards program began in 1999 the 50 largest minority-owned businesses in Washington had combined revenues of under $1 billion.
  • This year, the 50 largest had combined revenues in excess of $3 billion. And for the first time there’s a minority-owned business, PetroCard Systems of Kent, which has revenues in excess of $1 billion.
  • As recently as five years ago companies could get on the largest minority-owned business list with sales of as little as $750,000 and this year, the smallest of the 50 largest businesses had revenues in excess of $3.4 million.
  • The fastest growing minority-owned business this year (for the 5th time in 7 years) comes from the Spokane area. The Spokane Tribal Enterprise Corporation has grown its revenues by more than 760% in the last three years and has grown from just seven employees to nearly 50.
  • The 25 fastest growing minority-owned businesses in Washington have added more than 600 jobs in the last three years, despite the recession.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Why Don’t We Have a Kauffman Foundation?

October 20, 2009

I was reading this article on Xconomy about their new partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, and the titular question immediately struck me: Why Don’t We Have a Kauffman Foundation?

Think about it: we are a center of innovation, but one of the most difficult places in the country to start and sustain a new business (see Indicator 13). And what do they focus on? Improving the success of entrepreneurship and commercialization! Read the rest of this entry »

Minority-Owned Businesses in the Great Recession

August 7, 2009

PSBJ has a story about how “[m]inority-owned small businesses in Washington state and across the nation could be at greater risk of failure during the recession due to their limited access to credit, increased competition and overall weak sales.” Not a shocker, certainly. Running a business in a recession is hard. Running a small business in a recession is harder. And sadly, running a minority-owned small business is even worse. Read the rest of this entry »

Scared Of Contracting With Minority Owned Businesses!?!

December 31, 2008

So, I-200 (prohibiting the state from using race or ethnicity in deciding student admissions, employment or contract awards) has lots of detractors, particularly among the minority-owned business community. But this quote is really eye-opening:

“I-200 has impacted state agencies in a way that in some cases they are overly cautious about reaching out to diverse suppliers,” Cooper says. “There’s this atmosphere of ‘I’m not sure I can do this’ and that does not level the playing field. It does just the opposite.”

Essentially, state departments are saying, “It’s not worth the potential headache to hire certified minority-owned firms, so I’m not going to.”  No wonder that less than 1% of state contracts go to MBOs.

The underlying question is, in a period where certification is a hinderance, is it worth getting certified?  Certification gives a stamp of approval to companies to say that they are truly owned at least 51% by a minority (or woman) owner, and that’s great for corporate contracting where large corporations have a certain spend that they’re trying to get to with diverse businesses.  In fact, I know that a lot of companies ask some of their minority-owned firms to get certified so that they can count them officially in their reporting.  But for government, where departments are prohibited from factoring in race, getting certified apparently opens up a whole can of worms.  If we’re going to ask MBOs to get certified, which is a time and money consuming process, we better make sure there’s value in it.

Things You Are Going To See a Lot More Of, Part 2

December 5, 2008


There are two parts to this story. First off, minority-owned businesses are struggling because all businesses are struggling (fyi, the economy isn’t very good right now.) Second, though, is that a lot of companies still see diversity inclusion programs (both in hiring and contracting) as extra things they do to be good corporate citizens, not vital parts of their profitability and viability. Ipso facto, as budgets get cut at large corporations, less is being spent on ensuring that the largest number of suppliers are included in the procurement process. It’s a short sighted strategy, and counterproductive, but not unexpected until we do a better job of incorporating supplier diversity best practices into the procurement process of all our region’s companies.

Leading with the Product

October 14, 2008

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of putting together a panel discussion on the minority-owned business ecosystem at the Filipino Chamber of Commerce business conference. The idea of the ecosystem is that – in order to successfully support and grow minority-owned business in our region – all the stakeholders need to be functioning effectively in relationship to each other: the businesses themselves, large businesses that provide contracting opportunities, business resource providers that offer technical assistance, education, financing, networking and advocacy; and government (which provides contracting, business resources and the policy framework). Read the rest of this entry »

A Profitable Bank!?!

August 18, 2008

This article about the new president of UniBank is really an article about the success of “ethic-focused banking” (I just made up that term…I’m sure there’s a better one). Plaza Bank is another example of this approach.

In some way, this is just basic business school marketing: identify a specific, potentially underserved market share and target your services toward it. Read the rest of this entry »

Let the Numbers Do the Talking

August 14, 2008

So, this is really the case for supplier diversity.

If we don’t have a good business climate for minority-owned businesses, there literally will not be enough qualified suppliers with the capacity to serve our large cluster businesses. Any questions?

It Takes a Village (of Aerospace Companies)

August 14, 2008

One of the many things I learned today at the Boeing Supplier Diversity Symposium and Showcase is that 70% of Boeing’s work (in terms of dollars) is done by companies other than Boeing. Boeing’s revenues in 2007? $66.4 billion. All in all, approximately $2 billion in contracts went to women- and minority-owned businesses, keeping Boeing as one of only 14 companies on the Billion Dollar Roundtable (corporations that do more than $1 billion in spend with diverse suppliers). Read the rest of this entry »