BET and RLJ Cos. founder Robert Johnson has proposed a program that will revolutionize the way Black businesses gain access to capital.
The Better Opportunity and Outcomes for Socially Disadvantaged Talent (BOOST) Act was created in the 1970s to increase minority ownership of media properties. Johnson believes if the BOOST Act was enacted by Congress, it would help elevate Black businesses.
“The biggest challenge to racial equality in our nation is the glaring wealth chasm between Black and white American families,” said Johnson in a press release. “To close that gap, there must be a commitment to finding a workable solution to the lack of capital in the Black community. The BOOST Act, if enacted by Congress through tax legislation and embraced by investors, would elevate Black and minority businesses into the wealth-building and wealth-accumulation economic system that is the principal driver of economic opportunity and achievement in our capitalistic economy.”
Black-owned and minority businesses have been starved of access to capital for decades and the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t helped. The federal government hasn’t helped either and as a result, minority businesses have limited growth potential, cannot create generational wealth, or help improve their communities.
The act would help by giving tax incentives to investors and entrepreneurs who invest in minority businesses.
“Therefore, I urge Congress and The White House to quickly move to evaluate my legislative language for the enactment of the BOOST Act,” Johnson said. “I fundamentally believe the BOOST Act is consistent with and a real solution to the Biden/Harris focus on equity and thus merits full support. Lastly, I hope that the American people will support the BOOST Act as a morally responsible and economically viable solution to help solve socioeconomic problems confronting this country.”
The Brookings Institute supports the effort saying it would help grow the economy as a whole.
“This shortage of Black businesses throttles employment and the development of Black communities. Furthermore, the underrepresentation of Black businesses is costing the U.S. economy millions of jobs and billions of dollars in unrealized revenues,” authors Andre Perry and Carl Romer wrote.
Johnson appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Tuesday and said he hopes corporate America will support efforts to boost access to capital for Black businesses with the same vigor as they had in supporting voting access.
“If you believe that voting rights is a primary need of the Black community, I would argue that access to capital is equal to or more so,” Johnson said. “Voting rights without access to capital to build wealth is, in my opinion, an empty cup.”