Small Business Administration The SBA is stepping up initiatives to build awareness of its programs amongst underserved communities. According to a blog post by Marie Johns, the SBA's Deputy Administrator, the SBA teamed last week with the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce to increase the participation of black-owned small businesses in SBA programs, including loan programs, government contracting and its resource partner network, such as SCORE. Banks and government agencies also have lending programs, specifically for blacks and other minorities who are owners of companies past the start-up stage. Check this article on Business.com to get more resources to help your business grow. Franchising Franchising amongst blacks and minorities is rising. According to a December report by the International Franchise Association, minority ownership of franchised businesses rose from 6.2% in 2002 to 20.5% in 2007. The report cited the most recent U.S. Census data available. Blacks and minorities were also more likely to run a franchised business as compared to a non-franchised business. Blacks owned 4.9% of all franchises, compared to Asians who owned 10.4% of all franchises and Hispanics who owned 5.2%, the report said. Franchisors in the IFA's MinorityFran program are actively looking to recruit minority prospects. Through the program, the franchises extend incentives to their prospects, including reductions in initial franchise fees, additional marketing support or incentives to establish brands in underserved communities that could provide tax credits to the franchisee, among other programs. The IFA is also about to launch a "Meet the Mayors" program in three cities this year, kicking off in Burnsville, Minn. on Aug. 23. According to IFA spokesman Matt Haller, the program is focused on inner-city franchise development and will address topics such as: Development issues including the permit process; How to effectively communicate with economic development officials; New market expansion; What it would take to establish an economic development fund; and Access to capital. "It's all about accelerating franchising," says Miriam Brewer, the IFA's senior director of education and diversity.