As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, the strength of minority-owned businesses will be a crucial aspect of job and wealth generation in the years to come. A joint report from the Milken Institute and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) concludes that minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) are a driving force behind growth and will be a major segment of the U.S. economy in the 21st century.1 To be sure, small business ownership—and its correlate, self-employment2—create a disproportionate share of new jobs in the economy, represent an important source of innovation, and have a notable effect on political decisions in the United States.3 In addition, many academicians and policymakers view self-employment as a route out of poverty and as an alternative to unemployment or discrimination in the labor market.4

Post-Katrina New Orleans has enjoyed a boom in entrepreneurship. According to The Data Center’s forthcoming New Orleans Index at
Ten, business startups have skyrocketed in the New Orleans metro, eclipsing the national rate by 64 percent.