Minority-owned businesses increasing across the U.S.

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COLUMBIA — Research put out by the United States Research Bureau shows minority-owned businesses across the U.S. are seeing an increase.

Michael Hill is the owner of Unitee Barbershop and Salon and has been for 14 years. He said having minority-owned businesses in Columbia is very important. 

"If one person steps out there and they make it, then another person steps up, it gives them the courage to do their creative idea or form a business," he said. 

Hill said being a business owner is something he never planned for when he was younger. 

"I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was talked into it," he said. 

Hill has one of the more than 130 minority-owned businesses in Columbia. 

Research done by the United States Research Bureau in 2015 shows the number of minority-owned firms in the U.S. rose from 5.8 million in 2007 to 8.0 million in 2012. This includes a 46.3 percent increase in the number of Hispanic-owned firms over the period, from 2.3 million to 3.3 million, and a 34.5 percent rise in the number of black or African American-owned firms, from 1.9 million to 2.6 million.

Also, the number of Asian-owned firms climbed from 1.5 million to 1.9 million, an increase of 23.8 percent. For added context, total U.S. firms increased 2.0 percent during the same period, from 27.1 million in 2007 to 27.6 million in 2012.

Even though there is research at the national level, the city of Columbia is still working to collect data on minority-owned businesses.

The City Consultant for Columbia James Whitt said collecting data has been a work in progress. 

"What we're doing is tracking the businesses that we're working with," he said "We're asking questions about how many employees do you have what's the size of your business." 

Whitt was appointed by the city to create a database that puts all minority owned businesses into a system. This system works as a directory so if anyone is looking for a specific service, they are able to access this directory. 

Even though Hill is not part of the directory and is not concerned about data being kept on minority-owned businesses in Columbia, he said is hoping that his business continues to thrive and he encourages anyone thinking about owning their own business to do it. 

"Anyone who is interested in pursuing that dream or passion for their life, get on that path and stay on that path and make things happen," he said.