The Small Women and Minority Business (SWaM) program of the state of Virginia received modest praise for increasing state spending with minority-owned businesses, including prime and sub-contractors, from 2.3 percent in fiscal year 2008 to 5.4 percent of state discretionary spending in fiscal year 2009.
The SWaM program is race- and gender-neutral and has increased state spending with white, male-owned small businesses even more than minority businesses.
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper spoke with the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise Director, Samuel Hayes III, who said, "Let's say that Norfolk State or Old Dominion puts out a contract, and I see the type of people that they're looking for, and I say, 'Have you considered this vendor?' I try to give them multiple vendors, so I can't be accused of pre-selection. In many cases, they've been successful."
The challenges, he said, include a shortage of minorities in some fields, such as architecture, and pockets of resistance in state government.
Mr. Hayes is a member of the network of state minority and women business programs, coordinated by the Insight Center's Inclusive Business Initiative.