Latest Census Report Confirms Growth of Minority Businesses

The number of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander owned businesses in the U.S. grew 49.4 percent between 1997 and 2002, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The latest installment of the bureau's 2002 Survey of Business Owners, released Thursday, found that the estimated 29,000 businesses owned by Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders generated $4.3 billion in business receipts in 2002.

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Earlier this month, the bureau also released data on American Indian and Alaskan Native owned businesses, which numbered more than 200,000 and brought in $26.9 billion in 2002 revenue. (Data on American Indian and Alaskan owned businesses cannot be directly compared to previous years because of changes in survey methodology, according to the bureau.)

Combined, American Indian, Native Alaskan, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander owned firms comprise just 1 percent of all American businesses, and their combined revenue only make up 0.14 percent of total U.S. business receipts. But with a 50 percent jump over five years, the number of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander owned firms grew at almost 5 times the national average of 10.3 percent.

Overall, the figures are consistent with a trend of high growth in the number of minority-owned businesses.

Only 12 percent of all American Indian and Alaska Native owned firms, and 13 percent of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander owned firms had paid employees in 2002, accounting for 82 percent of the groups’ total revenues.

Warren Asing, president of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, called the report “encouraging.” “Since 2002, there has been even more interest, lots more new startups and far more successes in Native Hawaiian entrepreneurship,” he said.

Jane Sawyer, public information officer and business development director of the Small Business Administration's office in Honolulu, attributes much of the growth to an economic turnaround in the late 1990s. “Between 1997 and 2002, Hawaii experienced a business turnaround that the mainland had experienced much earlier,” she said.

In fact, 53 percent of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander owned businesses are based in Hawaii and California, and minority business organizations have been springing up in their wake. The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Native Hawaiian Economic Alliance and the Asia Pacific Islander Small Business Program in Los Angeles have all been formed in the last five years.
Sawyer cited low-interest SBA loans and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs — a representative agency for indigenous Hawaiians — as factors in the growing number of startups among the native population.

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