WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration claims its policies are helping African American business owners, and this week, the White House put those initiatives front and center as part of its Black History Month celebrations.
Some in Congress say they want to make sure the president’s outreach is genuine and not just pandering to a major voting block ahead of the November elections.
“I think these policies have been tremendous,” said Barb Smith, president of Journey Steel.
Smith said President Trump is helping her business, and others, by removing barriers to success.
“This administration is definitely trying to pinpoint what’s keeping small, minority-owned businesses from thriving,” she said.
Smith was a guest at a White House event highlighting the administration’s programs to help minority businesses.
“The people in the room today come from places that have heard a lot of promises from a lot of politicians from a lot of years past,” said White House Office of American Innovations advisor Ashley Bell. “What we’re doing today is offering opportunity right now.”
The President points to Opportunity Zones, which are supposed to encourage investment in struggling minority communities.
And in light of the administration’s outreach initiatives, some in the Congressional Black Caucus say they hope the efforts are genuine, and not just politics.
“My concern with any administration, whether Democratic or Republican, is that African Americans are not being used as a tool for political opportunism,” said Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana), member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“I think any outreach from any administration, whether Democratic or Republican, to the black community in a very real way, not a symbolic way, to grow businesses and empower black businesses is always important,” Carson added.
The White House points to the entrepreneurs at this week’s event as evidence the administration’s programs are working.