LOUISVILLE, KY.— Senior Branch Executive Maria Hampton discussed the importance of diversity in small business development and entrepreneurial thinking as part of a panel at “Making Diversity Pay: The Challenges and Payoffs of Women and Minority Owned Businesses,” sponsored by the Young Professional Association of Louisville on June 29 at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
In her remarks, Hampton discussed how diversity breeds creativity and innovation—key ingredients essential for small business creation and a robust economy. As an example, Hampton cited the growth in minority- and women-owned small businesses. From 1997 to 2002, African American and women-owned small businesses grew at a rate of 34 percent and 20 percent respectively. She also noted that immigrants in particular have become leading entrepreneurs, outpacing native-born Americans by nearly 30 percent. In Kentucky alone, women-owned businesses represent 26 percent of all companies in the state. These numbers are important, Hampton said, because small businesses account for half of private sector employment, generating 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years according to the Small Business Administration.
“Diversity fosters creative entrepreneurship,” Hampton said. “And it is creative entrepreneurial thinking that is a major ingredient for a successful small business sector that is efficient, growing and competitive.”
“Ideas, after all, create jobs,” she added.
To help make their ideas and innovations a reality, Hampton encouraged Louisville area entrepreneurs to learn more about the variety of funding sources available for small business development, including federal programs, community development finance corporations and micro-lenders.