Commentary
5:00 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Past and Present: Baking A Bigger Pie

A historic and ongoing shortcoming of the U.S. economy is its underutilization of the entrepreneurial potential within nonwhite communities. For instance, because of this longstanding problem, in Kansas today, nonwhites make up 20 percent of the state’s population, yet only seven percent of Kansas’ businesses are minority-owned.

Dr. Robert E. Weems, Jr.
Credit Courtesy photo / Wichita State University

Wichita’s Kansas Leadership Center is heading an initiative to address this issue. As the KLC’s President and CEO Ed O’Malley asserted in a guest editorial in the Wichita Business Journal, increasing the number of nonwhite business owners in Kansas has important, positive implications for the state’s economic future. Specifically, O’Malley noted that if the percentage of Kansas’s minority-owned businesses grew to match population proportions, that could create 70,000 new jobs in the Sunflower State.

A number of other stakeholders, including the Small Business Administration, are working with the KLC to develop effective strategies to increase the number of nonwhite business owners in Kansas and to increase public awareness of this issue’s importance.

Unlike earlier efforts in the 1960s and '70s, which viewed increasing the number of minority enterprises as an exercise in commercial philanthropy, this project is an economics-based initiative that seeks to take advantage of clearly observable demographic changes in Kansas and throughout the nation.

As Ed O’Malley perceptively asserted, “this is not about redistributing the pie. It’s about baking a bigger pie.”