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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

African-American-Owned Firms Increase Dramatically

45 Percent Growth is Highest Growth Rate Among Largest Minority Groups

By Jim Hopkins, USA TODAY

NEW YORK (Aug. 18) - Cherie Ransom struggled to find work after Bethlehem Steel went bust in 2001, zapping her accounting job near Buffalo during the recession. Ransom moved home to Virginia, but full-time permanent jobs were elusive, and some employers said she was overqualified. Ransom started a bookkeeping service from her Virginia Beach home, focusing on small-business customers.

Now, Ransom, 35, says she has enough work to consider hiring her first employee. "I was so busy last year, it was crazy," she says.

Her business is one of about 375,000 started by African-Americans from 1997 to 2002, new Census data show. That was surprising growth, given that African-Americans trailed Asians and Hispanics five years before, the last time the Census tracked the numbers.

The 45% jump in black-owned firms, to 1.2 million, was the highest growth rate among the largest minority groups, the Census says.

Virtually all that growth among black-owned companies was in mom-and-pop firms, often started at home. Annual revenue averaged $21,000. Few had paid employees.

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