We know that job creation and sustainable economic growth flourish with open, inclusive education, markets, and capital formation. We also know that St. Louis will flourish by attracting entrepreneurs, innovative employers, and talent and by closing the gaps in economic mobility. Unfortunately, President Trump's proposed budget calls for eliminating one of the federal agencies most effective in ensuring inclusive markets and in closing our economic mobility gaps.
Established in 1969 under President Nixon, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency dedicated to advancing the growth of minority-owned businesses. The agency connects minority-owned businesses with the capital, contracts, and markets they need to grow. There are eight million minority-owned businesses (MBEs) that represent nearly 30 percent of all U.S. firms and contribute $1.4 trillion in economic output. Despite progress made in the 53 years since the Civil Rights Act, the disparity between minority- and non-minority-owned businesses remains stark. Without the federal programs supported by MBDA, it is difficult for minority-owned firms to fully participate in the free enterprise system that is the basis of our nation's economy.
St. Louis minority business owners already contribute $10.5 billion to the region's economy. Programs supported by MBDA give these businesses a fair chance to succeed in the marketplace and fully participate in the economic development of the St. Louis region. Continuing to fund MBDA will support employers facing obstacles they may never otherwise breach and maximize their returns in the economy. We want to ensure that minority-owned businesses have a partner in the federal government to allow them to grow, add jobs, and build our economy. Without MBDA, we cease to encourage citizens to be active and productive members of our regional and national marketplace.
Racial and economic impacts need to be factors in policy decision-making. We urge Congress to fully fund the MBDA and support these effective programs that enable many more of our friends and neighbors a chance to achieve the American Dream.