The future of minority-owned business is bright 


  • Courtesy Wright Tree & Lawn LLC
It’s hard to believe that summer is already halfway over. On sizzling hot days like we’ve had this past month, I think of my friend, Wayne Wright, a Jamaican man who migrated to the United States six years ago, when he was 32 years old.

A year later, Wayne started his landscaping company, Wright Tree and Lawn, and he’s been in business ever since. Regardless of the heat, and as long as I’ve known him, Wayne is out from sunup to sundown, busting his tail to make the most of every opportunity he gets. In five short years, Wright’s grassroots business venture has maintained a 4.96 rating (out of 5) on HomeAdvisor.com, a contractor matching service that claims to be one of the most trusted sources in landscaping.

With the year flying by — in just a few short months the changing colors of fall will precede the horizon of a new year — it’s a great time to ponder the prospect of population change. Time isn’t the only fast-moving thing in Colorado, which is gaining people and business rapidly, trends that might also lead to changing colors.

This spring, I attended a Minority & Small Business Enterprise Diversity Summit, hosted by the Hispanic Business Council. Tatiana Bailey, Ph.D., a Latina who is director of the Economic Forum in the UCCS College of Business, gave a compelling presentation on the increase of minority businesses in the U.S., but particularly how those trends will affect Colorado.

The information highlighted the economic power people of color bring to the nation and state, and I couldn’t help but wonder why we keep using the term “minority,” when people of color and their representation in business and the workforce is, increasingly, anything but?

According to the U.S. Census, “minorities” are projected to comprise 57 percent of the population in 2060, with about 1 in 3 Americans being Latino. The non-Hispanic white population, meanwhile, is expected to drop by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060. The economic power that people of color bring to our city, state and nation will only increase in the coming years. Colorado is one of the Western states poised to experience the greatest diversity shift.

“[C]hildren under 10 years old, when comparing 2015 to 2050, almost 60 percent of the population will be black, Hispanic or Asian or another minority, and even almost 60 percent for 10- to 24-year-olds,” says Bailey. But even that statement fails to illustrate the level of diversity in our future: Black, Hispanic and Asian are broad terms for people from a multitude of cultural backgrounds.

Bailey also says that “minority” business owners tend to be younger, with nearly 40 percent under the age of 40. In 2017, “minority” business employed over 6 million people and generated close to $2 trillion. Thus, the benefits of supporting people of color in business are endless — and help us all.

Immigrant “minorities” now represent 15 percent of the workforce and 25 percent of investors and entrepreneurs, and are two times as likely to start a business as those born in the United States, Bailey adds. This group increases its economic power by bringing dollars from across the world, which Bailey says has a bigger impact because it represents new dollars in our economy. And immigrants and “minorities” have always added to our community.

Although “minority-owned” businesses fail at higher rates, Bailey says that those that do survive tend to have greater resilience and long-term growth. “Minority-owned” businesses that can make it five years experience more growth, Bailey continues, adding the potential of increased job creation.

The numbers are encouraging, especially since we know that race has a huge impact on wealth creation in America. The contributions of immigrants and people of color to the economic power of our nation have never waned. It’s just that now, with growing population diversity, we are  positioned to have a larger piece of the pie.

There is nothing “minor” about my friend Wayne or his approach. In a short time span, through hard work and dedication, he was able to start and grow a thriving business and expand by purchasing a larger property for his company.

Wayne’s advice to people of color looking to start their own business: “Stay focused and motivated. Provide a service that sets you apart. Be consistent and customer-oriented.”

Here’s wishing him, and others like him, a bright future in colorful Colorado.

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