Eleanor Holmes Norton
**FILE** D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (Courtesy photo)

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Though the nation’s capital has already seen a 40 percent increase in the number of black-owned businesses, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton says that minority-owned businesses still have the opportunity to do “even better.”

Norton, who is readying for her annual Small Business Fair aimed at teaching small minority-owned companies the ropes, emphasized the significance of the June 15 event and her overall commitment to black-owned businesses.

“Black-owned businesses are not asleep,” Norton said. “They are increasing their participation at record rates, and one of the things that really intrigues me the most is the 40 percent increase in black-owned [businesses] and the 21 percent increase in Hispanic-owned businesses.

“What this means is that black business owners are progressively taking advantage of the burgeoning D.C. economy,” she said. “The District has displacement issues, but when it comes to business, that’s all positive and it is a major part of my agenda.”

Though some critics worry that minority-owned businesses may struggle under the Trump administration, Norton said that minority-owned businesses — blacks in particular — will continue to thrive.

“Black entrepreneurs have understood that this is the time to get business in D.C.,” Norton said. “I have no question about black-owned businesses in D.C. competing. Fortunately, Trump doesn’t have much to do with that. It really has to do with the local economy, which is booming.”

“Our Small Business of the Year will be a black business,” she added. Our Small Business of the Year last year was not only a black business person, but a young man who had learn how to do HVAC while at the bureau of prisons and he came out and started his own HVAC business that is so successful.”

During the fair at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, participants will take part in learning about new small business administration initiatives, government procurement, developing business plans and strategy and the importance of technology in business development.

Businesses owners will also be able to receive information about credit building and financial resources, two topics Norton says that business owners should be really excited about.

“This is why we have the small business fair. … We want our small businesses to learn the ropes and we have what amounts to an encyclopedia of experts to come and offer it,” she said. “Black-owned businesses in D.C. have been very successful compared to where they were. We want to keep this going — we have a booming economy here and we want to make sure they take full advantage of it.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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