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How your family can prosper in 1993.

It was a victory African-Americans have been waiting 12 years to celebrate. For the first time since 1980, the occupant in the White House is an individual with a vision that includes better times for all Americans. Without a doubt, the landslide victory of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton is a mandate to make the country's economy the No. 1 priority of the nation's 42nd president.

And to fulfill that charge, President-elect Clinton, who takes office after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, must move quickly to reorder the nation's priorities. But even swift actions will take months to make a dent in our sluggish economy, and even longer to fully impact on the average citizen. So face it. You simply can't wait around for things to get better. Now is the time to put your family's financial house in order.

To better understand the individual financial priorities of our readers, the editors of BLACK ENTERPRISE looked back at the results of our election-year survey, "Establishing A Political Agenda For African-Americans." Your answers, which appeared in the July 1992 issue, provided the foundation upon which this story is built--the concerns that threaten your chance to live the American Dream. From long-term unemployment to the skyrocketing costs of health care, experts like Robert J. Oberst Sr., a certified financial planner and president of the Red Bank, N.J., firm that bears his name, agree that no matter what the future holds: "Americans will have to do a much better job of managing their professional and financial affairs."

This is especially true for anyone among the nation's 76.5 million baby boomers. If you're between the ages of 30 and 50, you know that you're caught in the triple squeeze of saving for your retirement your children's education and your aging parents' long-term care.

To not only conserve, but also expand your financial resources, you're going to have to create and stick to a household budget. However, before you can save money, you have to know where you spend it The key to saving will be to reduce debt. "The average person spends some 12% of their take-home pay financing consumer debt [$7.7 trillion on the national level]," says Vernon Brown, a partner of Bilal, Brown & Williams, a financial planning firm in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Don't be afraid to use your money to pay off debt for fear of reducing your savings. "Accumulating more money is often achieved by lowering debt," says Brown. This makes perfect sense given the average interest rate on credit cards is 18.45%, with personal unsecured loans at7.66% and auto loans averaging 9.09%.

Here's a simple formula: Reduce or eliminate debt whenever the cost saved on the interest is greater than the expected gain on the potential investment. For example, it is best to eliminate the debt on your MasterCard and Visa first before you run out and invest in, say, a mutual fund. Although such an investment may seem wise, the high interest rates of credit cards will cancel out any gains you may reap from the fund.

With mortgage refinancing rates at 5.09% for 15-year rates and 8.09% for 30-year rates, now is the time to knock percentage points off your double-digit mortgage. Just make sure, however, that the points you pay don't exceed any savings you might get from a lower interest rate.

After you have reduced your debt and refinanced your mortgage, put an emergency fund in place. Average household income may have risen 11.4% since 1980, but disposable income per capita has not kept pace with inflation. And the median weekly wage for all workers has dropped.

For Whom The Pink Slip Rolls

Years ago, loyalty, hard work and status seemed to guarantee employment for life as well as annual bonuses, comprehensive benefits and a fat severance. But since the 1987 Wall Street crash, thousands of companies began restructuring, downsizing or just plain laying off employees to cut costs. When the 1990 recession hit the unemployed ranks soared.

Although the current jobless rate of about 7.5% is below the 10.8% peak 11 years ago, lost jobs are being replaced at a slower rate. The brakes have also been put on corporate productivity, hiring and salaries--although this is expected to change as companies become more efficient and productivity improves. But personal and family finances must be in order to survive and thrive in the interim.

To build up your cash reserve, you will have to save a minimum of three-to-six months worth of your take-home pay. Put the money in a liquid account, such as a money-market mutual fund. You will have money to fall back on if the proverbial ax falls.

Stepping To The Benefits' Hustle

Even if you're confident your job isn't on the line, your benefits may be. Given the rapidly escalating national health bill, which totaled $666.2 billion in 1990, most companies want to reduce their liability. One potential result is "you are going to have companies that either don't provide any health benefits or limit what they do offer," says Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, president of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.

In fact, the Washington, D.C.-based Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) reports that the percentage of employer-sponsored health premiums has declined in recent years. The rise in the number of nonelderly people without health insurance is partly due to the drop in the number of Americans with employment-based coverage, from 140.8 million in 1989 to 138.7 million in 1990.

For those who are self-employed or work for a company with fewer than 25 employees, the chances of having health coverage are slimmer. About 50% of all uninsured workers fall under this sector. Even if you are fortunate to be included in the 90% of all employees with health benefits, you still face the threat of your company passing on a greater share of health care costs to you.

In 1990, private insurance covered one-third of employee health costs. The government made up 28% of medical payments, and patients paid 20% through out-of-pocket expenses. So, you could face sizable uninsured costs if you or a family member becomes seriously ill or injured. There is a ceiling on the amount you pay, after which the insurer pays the full 100%. But some group plans have a cap for claims related to certain diseases, especially cancer and AIDS. Your health insurance may cover $25,000 for the treatment of an ailment in which total costs could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Employers are also controlling costs by sponsoring managed-care programs. "Traditional indemnity plans are rapidly disappearing," says Gary Laugharn, a consultant in the Woodland, Texas, office of Hewitt Associates, an employee benefits research firm. "The shift now is toward health maintenance organizations (HMOs), point-of-service HMOs and preferred provider organizations (PPOs)."

What can you do to protect yourself and family? Ask questions. If married, can you coordinate your medical coverage with that of your spouse? Are there provisions for mental or nervous disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease? Are your elderly parents' expenses under your coverage? If your company offers a flexible benefits plan, figure out how it can be most advantageous to you. (See "Flexible Benefits: More Options or More Headaches?" October 1991.)

Have you investigated nursing care for yourself? If you haven't, get moving. Every one in five people is expected to spend some time in a nursing home. In 1990, nursing home care cost$53.1 billion. Medicare contributed 800 million and Medicaid paid $19.3 billion. Long-term care insurance paid only $500 million. But the remaining cost of financing long-term care--$23.9 billion--fell on the shoulders of the patients and their families.

Will you be able to pay the bills if you suffer from a serious illness or from an injury that leaves you incapacitated for a couple of months? The younger you are, the greater your chances of becoming disabled. And only on-the-job injuries are covered by worker's compensation.

You will need disability insurance to replace your income under any other circumstances.

Blue Days, Golden Years?

Just as your health insurance needs the once-over, you had better take a look at the source of your retirement income. For would-be golden retirees, the emphasis is on increasing the personal savings rate and reducing reliance on government income-transfer programs, says Shirley Waldrum, programs specialist with the American Association of Retired Persons, Washington, D.C.

Not a comforting thought when you consider that the U.S. personal savings rate fell to a low of 5.1% of disposable income in 1990, compared with an average rate of 8.6% in 1982. Moreover, employer contributions to retirement plans fell from 5.1% in 1982to3.8% in 1990 as a result of federal laws reducing pension contributions. Private saving has always been a key part of the stool of retirement income. The other legs are Social Security benefits and pensions.

But the replacement rate for Social Security today ranges from 58% of preretirement income for a low-wage earner to 41 % for an average earner to 25% for a maximum earner. And only 33% of all salaried workers over age 65 receive private pension benefits, and 66% of those age 25 and older are covered by employer-provided pensions. Besides, most people fail to take into account how inflation eats up pension dollars.

"In order to provide yourself an income of $1,000 a month at age 65, you will have to accumulate about $120,000," says Roberta Burger, president of Capital Control Concepts, a financial planning and investment advisory firm in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. To get to that amount, given 7% interest, you would have to save $1,100 a year starting at age 35. At age 45, $2,740 a year. And at age 55, $8,120 a year. What about taxes? A 55-year-old living in New York City who is taxed at 40% would actually have to save $13,500 per year.

"What happens if the company you have worked 20 years for goes bankrupt?" asks Cindy Hounsell, staff attorney with the Pension Rights Center in Washington, D.C. "You will be lucky to get your money, especially if you are under age 55," she says. Many employees think their pensions are automatically protected, but "there are significant weaknesses in the law [the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA]." Furthermore, there's a trend to eliminate traditional employer funded pension plans and promote defined employee contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans. So, more of your company retirement fund will come out of your pocket.

Regardless of your age, everyone needs an investment portfolio. Ideally, people between age 25 and 45 are in their asset-building years and should buy stocks. About 40% of their portfolio should hold aggressive growth stock funds, 30% growth stock funds and 20% high-grade corporate bonds. The remaining 10% should be in a more liquid vehicle, such as a money-market fund. Older investors-between age 50 and 65-should stick to fixed-income investments. At this stage, these folks may want to keep much of their portfolio in growth and income stock mutual funds.

Knowledge Is Power And Expensive

Retirement still seems distant for many people. But planning for your children's college tuition is much closer. The federal government is presently recalculating the eligibility formula used to determine financial need. One component excluding assets as an income source will make it easier to qualify for loans.

But, says Kathleen Payea, associate director of scholarship services for The College Board, New York, you shouldn't expect an increase in grants even though you will be able to borrow more money.

In fact, the balance of grants to loans has already declined to less than 50%. The largest single source of aid is still the Guaranteed Student Loan Program. This program provided $13.7 billion in aid to students, or 45% of all student aid. The next largest source of student aid, 19%, came from scholarship, fellowships and trainee stipends from government and private programs.

Of course, this doesn't alleviate the anxiety of financing a college education. By the year 2008, you can expect to pay between $100,000 and $200,000 for four years at college. In fact, the College Board's survey of all colleges in the nation shows costs rising at an average rate of 7% for private colleges and 10% for public colleges.

High tuition costs and other auxiliary expenses make it harder for even solid middle-class families to afford college for their children today. Right now, four years at a private college costs about $67,820 and $35,545 at a public school. The best thing that parents can do is start a college fund before their children are born. If that is not possible, begin the fund soon after the child's birth. To be truly effective, parents with newborns must start saving about $13,000 a year, at 5%, to pay for a private college. Parents with teenagers have to save twice that amount.

Check out the stock market as a way to grow a tuition fund. Parents with children under a e 10 should invest in stocks and growth mutual funds which have averaged annual returns of 10% to 15%. "The key is to find investments that provide as high a return as possible," says Pierre Dunagan, an account executive in the Matteson, III., office of the brokerage firm Dean Witter Reynolds.

The Hunt For Capital Relief

Business financing will require some strategic calculations this year. inadequate capital is always a major contributor to the high failure rate of small businesses.

Not surprisingly, small businesses, especially African American-owned companies, are starving for cash. It's hard for many business owners to get money from commercial banks in good times. In this untethered economy, the banks--while easing credit controls to some degree--are not eagerly making loans.

Of course, there are other sources of funding besides banks. This could be your year to interest a venture capitalist in backing your project (see "Facing Tough Times On The Money Trail," this issue). These lenders of first resort are ready, willing and liquid if your product is potentially hot and their equity interest demands can be met.

But bear in mind traditional venture capital funding sources--pension funds, corporations and investor groups--have not been investing at the same rate since the biotechnology booms and busts that hit the late 1980s.

One way to attract venture capital is through small business investment companies (SBICs). SBICs are minority development companies that are licensed and regulated by the Small Business Administration (SBA). They provide working and expansion capital to minority-owned businesses.

Factors, firms that pay up front in cash for another business' accounts receivables, are a more expensive source of funding. Once they were perceived as legalized loan-sharking in many business circles. However, "factors are among the most aggressive players in financing today," says A. David Silver, president of ADS Cos. in Santa Fe, N.M., and author of Up Front Financing: The Entrepreneur's Guide.

Forming corporate partnerships is a solid way to strengthen your company's position. In exchange for financing, your business might do research and development, but your partner may handle product distribution. There are caveats as well as benefits. To get money, you may have to give up some control. No one is going to invest in your company just because that person likes you.

Of course, a foundation of sound business management is effective control over your family finances. With a new year unfolding it is time to make some personal economic resolutions.

The goal is to adopt a long-range approach. You're not just looking for ways to prosper this year, but for all years to come.

THE CHALLENGE OF AN UNCERTAIN JOB MARKET

For four months Keith Cornelius had no job. The 33-year-old Houston accountant resigned from his job as a human resources director for a nonprofit agency last May, joining more than 9 million other unemployed Americans.

Cornelius could have been devastated by the experience. But thanks to a supportive wife, a lot of household budget cutting and a focused job search, he was able to survive most of the traumas associated with being out of work.

"I immediately got involved with the dislocated worker program funded by the Texas Employment Commission," Cornelius says. "That program teaches you how to focus your job search. I concentrated on looking for human resources and accounting jobs. Most people send out anywhere from 100 to 300 resumes. I sent out thirty. Over the four-month period, I would say I had about 20 interviews. Most of the responses I got said there were no jobs or openings. Many of the companies said they were not hiring because of the sluggish economy. They were waiting to see what was going to happen."

While Cornelius, who collected about $200 a week in unemployment insurance, admits he had bouts of depression, he never gave up hope. He spent time reorganizing the family budget to make ends meet. "Our spending habits changed dramatically," he says. "We held on to our money as tightly as we could. We made sure the priorities were taken care of like the mortgage, utilities, our son's school, car notes and tithing to our church."

Cornelius says: "If there was an enormous sale at my favorite men's store, obviously I wasn't going to go anywhere near it. I normally have my shirts laundered frequently. That was out. Eating out was drastically curtailed. Movies were pretty much cut out. We tried as best as we could to put a major clamp on our spending habits."

During his unemployment, Cornelius' wife, Angel, an office services manager for the nursing division as St. Luke's Hospital, received a pay increase. "But even with that, things were still pretty tight," Angel says. "There were times when we had to dip into our savings to stay afloat. We almost depleted our savings," she says.

Cornelius, who describes himself as an economic conservative and a social liberal, says in order to stimulate the economy and create jobs, the federal government must commit itself to doing a number of things. "This nation must come to grips with the monumental federal deficit," he says. Cornelius and his wife have a six year-old son, Keith Jr., attending private school.

The University of Houston graduate also believes the federal government should create meaningful jobs for the unemployed. "Things need to be done in the cities that only government can do. When government decides to do those things, then that will create jobs. For example, building bridges, repairing roads, rebuilding our infrastructure."

Cornelius is now part of that process. Last fall, he became manager of accounting for the greater Houston Partnership, an organization that markets the city of Houston.

Reflecting on her husband's experience, Angel says retraining of skilled workers should be a priority in the private and public sectors. "There are still a lot of people of working age, middle-aged people, who still have working years left, but there is no longer a need for the skill they learned," she says.

INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE

Vida and Richard Nash are aiming high when it comes to their retirement goal. "We hope to have $1 million, maybe $2 million," says Richard, an Atlantic Records senior vice president. But assuming an average rate of return of 8% on their savings and 6% inflation rate, that means the New York couple will have to accumulate at least $60,000 every year until they retire. For the Nashes, that's 15 to 20 years from now. Even though Richard is 34 and Vida, a regional manager with A&M Records, is 29, the working life span is usually shorter for most people in their industry.

"My goal at age 50 is to get out of the business, get rid of the stress and go live on the beach somewhere," Richard says. "Ideally, at that point we'll take whatever monetary funds we have generated from the music industry and apply that to our own business."

But the Nashes must do some serious preparation, especially since they recently borrowed $30,000 from Richard's 401(k) plan to come up with a down payment on their $450,000 home. The couple opted to get a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage. A shorter mortgage, however, meant a higher note.

Their reasoning was that by the time they retired, the home would be paid off and they wouldn't have to worry about taking away money from future retirement income to pay off a mortgage.

Besides, "we are still young enough to build up the savings in our 401(k)," says Vida, who recently rolled over her 401(k) money from a previous employer into an interim individual retirement account (IRA). She won't be able to participate in her current company's plan until her one-year anniversary date.

"We realize we are going to have to be more aggressive in the amount we save," Richard adds. The couple plans to increase the contributions to their retirement funds. Richard has started contributing the maximum amount--7% of his $160,000 annual income--to his 401(k) plan. And in a couple of months, Vida will able to contribute 10% of her $55,000 salary.

Married just two-and-half years, the Nashes are making a lot of sacrifices. While the couple was able to buy their dream home, they were unable to sell the New Jersey condominium they had been living in. What they currently get in rent is just enough to cover the property taxes. Meanwhile, the couple has lost the equity built up in the condo. Over the next couple of years, the couple may end up spending their vacations at home.

Given the uncertainty of their industry, the Nashes say they don't want to be caught in a situation with their backs to the wall. "We're very concerned about how the economy has affected the business," Richard says. "We thought the record industry was going to be recession-proof, but overall revenues have been hurt."

He believes this is going to be a pivotal year for the record industry. Every nickel and penny consumers have is tight right now, he says, so people aren't buying as many CDs and cassettes.

"Everything we do will have to be more cost-effective," adds Vida, who is in charge of promotions and marketing for A&M's black music division. "In 1989, the company was going to phase out that division. But in 1992, it did a 360 [degrees] turn and restaffed the division. But if we don't sell the quota that the parent company (Polygram Records) wants us to match, we could all be out of jobs, because they could easily fade out the black music division."

One turn of events that could affect the couple's funds is the Nashes' plan to start a family. They will have to save another $9,000-a-year, per child, to build a college education fund.

FACING SPIRALING TUITION FEES

Their budget is paper thin, but Tate Foster is able to share a laugh with parents Barbara and Rogers Foster.

At 19, Tate Foster dreams of becoming an international corporate lawyer. But his first job is getting through college. With college costs escalating, the sophomore marketing major at Grambling State University in Grambling, La., must divide his time. He spends part of his time hitting the books and the rest worrying how to make ends meet. Foster says: "Money is tight. I don't eat out. I go without new clothes and I've given up on extracurricular activities like going to football games that are played away from school."

The Detroit native's tuition and expenses cost between $8,000 and $10,000 a year. Much of that comes from student loans. To make up the difference Foster, who has a 3.6 grade-point average, often asks his parents for money.

"Two weeks ago I sent Tate $500," says his father, Rogers Foster, 50. "Last week it was $200."

Tate Foster is not the only family member in college. His 21-year-old brother, Ryan, attends Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., where he's studying home construction. His college costs amount to about $4,000 a year. And Rogers Foster, a former vice president at a Detroit pharmaceutical company, just began working on an MBA at Wayne State University. He works full-time as a freelance photographer. With three Fosters in college, the family's budget is paper thin.

Much of the burden is on Barbara Foster, who teaches adult education for the Detroit Public School System. She had been a housewife for seven years, but decided to return to work three years ago to help with the additional education expenses. The Fosters' combined income is about $40,000.

"The college expenses have had a major impact on our budget," Rogers Foster explains. "Even with government student loans for Tate, we still shell out a lot of money. We do without. We do with less. I drive an old car. Barbara and I don't have the wardrobes we'd like to have. The money I get from my photography goes back into the business and to help take care of essentials."

Tate wanted to help defray some of his college costs. He has searched hard for a part-time job. "There are no openings. Being in the rural South, the jobs just aren't here. I've looked for work, but people keep telling me, sorry, we're fully staffed. I've gone to the few fast food restaurants here, but they have virtually no part-time jobs available. With 17 hours, including accounting, economics and German, I can't work full-time," says Tate, who plans to go to law school in Detroit after he graduates. Foster has applied for scholarships and grants. But so far he has come up empty-handed.

To decrease the cost of a college education, Rogers Foster says the federal government should offer tax breaks to deserving families. "There should be some kind of tax break for families at a certain income level because it's a burden," Rogers says. "It's definitely an advantage to have educated people in your country."

He also advocates lowering the interest rates on government-backed student loans. "Helping us get an education makes for a much more productive and competitive work force. The only way this nation is going to get back on top is by educating its people. That's going to cost money, and we just want some help in paying the bill."

PAYING THE HIGH PRICE OF HEALTH CARE

In September 1988, Silas Crawford became concerned when he noticed a lump on the left side of his neck. "I went to check it out," explains Crawford, now 51. That month, the Louisville, Ky., car salesman was diagnosed with malignant cancer of the lymph nodes.

But Crawford was one of the lucky ones. Unlike some 37 million Americans, he had health insurance. His company's policy reimbursed him for 80% of the costs of his medical needs. Even so, his cancer treatments placed a financial strain on him and his wife, Ann. Even with insurance, they found themselves with roughly $10,000 worth of hospital bills.

This situation has convinced Crawford that the government needs to start a national health care program. "Everybody should have the right of being covered by health insurance," he says.

When Crawford's cancer was detected, instead of surgery, he opted for radiation treatments, which took four months. One doctor, he says, wanted to perform radical neck surgery, which would have been much more expensive than radiation. "Throughout this whole ordeal, I felt some of the doctors were more interested in money than my care."

"Drug costs are just unreal. The prices are astronomical on medicine," says Ann, who spent hundreds of dollars on Silas' medicine. Much of it was not reimbursed by the insurance company.

The Crawfords also would like to see the federal government encourage insurance companies to pay for services of nontraditional doctors. "We went to one doctor who practices preventive medicine," Ann remembers. "That doctor used vitamins and other types of treatments as opposed to prescription drugs. insurance companies don't cover that, which is unfortunate because many times some of the things he did seemed to be very helpful to Silas. But those costs feel on us."

Silas Crawford's total medical costs were approximately $20,000. The Crawfords had to pay more than $4,000 of that from their pockets. Today, they owe about $2,500. "We need to develop a preventive type of medical care system," says Silas, whose cancer is in in remission.

Crawford has strong feeling about the choice patients should have. "People are scared off by the high cost of care and don't go in when they think there's a problem. If I had not had insurance, I probably would not have gone in as early as I did. I wasn't in pain. It was just that a doctor took himself off my case because he wanted to do a radical neck surgery on me and take the lymph nodes out of my neck, and I refused. Another doctor said he would radiate before he started cutting. I liked that better. When it comes to cancer, some physicians believe in just cutting."

Because of his cancer, Crawford was forced to take off from his job for nine months. While on medical leave, his company paid him $500 a month. Luckily, he and his wife had little debt at the time. The medical costs did not push them toward personal bankruptcy, but there were hardships. "Part of the problem with the 80%/20% insurance arrangement is that you don't get reimbursed for much of that until the end of the year," says Ann Crawford, 45, who is in sales at Philip Morris Cos. Inc.

Both the Crawfords want to see the federal government do more to curb medical costs. "It would help if all exams were covered by insurance companies," Ann says. "Costs should also be more uniform. The federal government needs to regulate those costs as well."

Silas Crawford is glad he had insurance. "Unlike many people without insurance, I was able to act quickly, and I think that saved my life."

RAISING CAPITAL IN A SLUGGISH ECONOMY

When the Los Angeles riots erupted last April, general building contractor Edward Charles Sims quickly saw a silver lining. The owner of Sims Development & Construction Co. was in the throes of the recession and his business flirting with bankruptcy. As he watched a building he helped construct five years earlier go up in flames, his thoughts were on helping rebuild Los Angeles. "'Look at all of this work,' was what I was thinking," says Sims, 38.

After two decades in the construction industry, Sims opened his own company in March 1989. Armed with a general building contractors license, which allowed him to build structures up to three stories high, Sims was off to a good start. His first year in business, Sims (whose grandfather and father were both in construction) built a shopping center and several homes. At one point, Sims had two dozen men working for him, three company trucks and he was operating out of a huge office. Sims took in more than $350,000 in gross sales in his first year.

But in 1990 the recession came to town and Sims' business plummeted. "The banks knew the housing industry was getting shaky, so they were clamming up," says Sims, a husband and father of three.

Not only did the banks stop making loans, but people were reconsidering building shopping malls, apartment complexes and new homes. Sims says, "I lost my office, and I had to put all of my equipment in storage. I sold one of my trucks."

As the recession lingered, Sims was able to get a few small jobs such as housing renovations or room additions. His income dropped from a high of $100,000 to about $20,000 in 1991.

"My wife works for the school board and I'd have to say without her salary and the benefits on her job, I don't think I would have made it. Every once in a while, a little job would come through and every dime I'd make off of it would go to maintain my equipment and insurance."

"How did it impact my family? Everything was cut. Car care was cut by 30% to 40%. Entertainment was cut out completely. I haven't bought any clothes for a year-and-a-half and my wife's clothing budget has been cut drastically. Our savings have almost been depleted. We are pretty stretched out."

During the April 1992 riots, more than 500 structures were destroyed. Property owners filed $775 million in claims. Sims and other black contractors were hoping to get a big portion of the reconstruction pie. But so far, few blacks have received contracts. (See "Resurrecting the City of Angels," November 1992.) Sims says, "I've made contact with the insurance companies. I showed them pictures of my projects and they put me on what they call their preferred list, but I haven't gotten any preferred phone calls yet."

While Sims has been unable to get any general contracting work in the aftermath of the riot, he was able to get a job as a demolition inspector. "Essentially, what I do is inspect buildings damaged in the riots. I inspect them to see if they're safe for reconstruction or if they should be torn down, and I check for safety violations."

Sims would like to see the government create an urban bank to loan small business owners operating capital. "To do a job that costs $500,000, you need $50,000 cash, or property that is free and clear, for bonding. It is so hard for minority contractors to come up with that kind of money." [TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:several related articles
Author:Gite, Lloyd
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:5639
Previous Article:Quenching storage thirst.
Next Article:New prescriptions for an ailing economy.
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