Diversity Lags in Virginia Small Business Program

Virginia has succeeded in reaching a benchmark of buying 40 percent of its products and services from minority- and women-owned businesses, but a Washington Post review of the commonwealth's Small, Women- and Minority-owned Business (SWaM) program has shown that a majority of the companies participating in the program are small businesses owned by white men, a fifth are not located in Virginia and an untold number have failed to receive any contracts, Post staffer Anita Kumar reports in today's Metro section.

Virginia has been criticized for failing to help small companies secure contracts since it opened its first minority business office in 1975, Kumar writes. A 2003 study showed that less than a half percent of commonwealth money was spent on minority businesses.

Virginia officials acknowledged that the SWaM program needs to be improved. "I'm not yet happy where the numbers are for women-owned and minority-owned businesses," said Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. "The numbers have improved pretty steadily since I came in, but they are still not at the level that I am happy with."

More information about SWaM is available online at Virginia's Department of Minority Business Enterprise Web site.

By Sharon McLoone |  August 19, 2008; 2:28 PM ET Gov't Contracting , Watchdogs
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Virginia's issue did not take only 3 to 5 years to get to where it is so it will not take that amount of time to fix it. The improvements are because of a string of two administrations who have the same ideals about minority participation and the support it needs in the real world. The question is can we continue these improvements over the next two administrations. If so, then I believe we will see a real transformation. It needs to be of value to both dems and republicans.

Posted by: Transform | August 20, 2008 8:47 AM

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