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Do Minority‐Owned Businesses Face a Spatial Barrier? Measuring Neighborhood‐Level Economic Activity Differences in Philadelphia

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Abstract

This research takes a neighborhood‐level geographic approach to analyzing the issue of minority‐owned business access to economic opportunity. Disparity persists between the considerable number of minority‐owned businesses and their meager impact on economies across the country. Agencies identifying barriers to full economic inclusion for these firms overlook geographic considerations. While the City of Philadelphia allots considerable resources to alleviating this disparity through its municipal set‐aside program, its reports track these efforts mainly by ethnicity. The nonspatial emphasis of the reported data renders invisible neighborhood‐level trends and geographic explanations for the disparity such as associating business size and activity to neighborhood context. Using geographic information systems analysis, this research finds neighborhood‐level geographic inequity in the city contracts awarded to minority‐owned professional services businesses in Philadelphia. The findings suggest that minority‐owned businesses located in certain predominantly minority areas of Philadelphia possibly encounter a geographic disadvantage that limits them from connecting with economic activity. These businesses may face a spatial barrier to full economic inclusion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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