The number of businesses in our minority communities continues to grow, adding to our competitive advantage. Over the last 10 years, minority business enterprises accounted for more than 50 percent of the two million new businesses started in the United States and created 4.7 million jobs. There are now more than four million minority-owned companies in the United States, with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion.
Yet, despite that growth, there is still a disparity when it comes to access to capital, contracting opportunities and other entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned firms. Though minorities make up 32 percent of our population, minority business ownership represents only 18 percent of the population. Additionally, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) noted in a recent report that even though the number of minority-owned firms has grown by 35 percent, the average gross receipts for those firms dropped by 16 percent.
Obviously, while the numbers of minority-owned businesses are a source of optimism and hold promise for the future, much more still needs to be done to encourage and strengthen the minority business community. That's why ensuring that all small businesses have access to federal contracts, access to capital and the technical assistance needed for success remains a top priority for the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Diversity is one of the nation's greatest strengths, and diverse small-business ownership is essential to our nation's continued economic success and growth.