Policymakers miss opportunity to create jobs with black tech firms

At age 26, Mary Spio was an engineer for Boeing in charge of its satellite communications division.   Like generations of black innovators from Benjamin Banneker to Percy Julian, she saw even more applications for her discoveries.   Spio became co-patent holder for digital cinema, taking the motion picture industry from fragile reel distribution to direct simultaneous display in global locations.

Now she is president of publicly traded Vidaroo in Orlando, FL, which provides online video solutions for businesses and individuals.

Silicon Ceiling 10: Equal Opportunity in High Technology has the most complete information on African-American entreprenuership in high technology.

George White, Ph.D. formed Jacket Micro Devices to create integrated RF modules for high performance wireless products. By 2007, Jacket had received five patents for Multi-Layer Organic (MLO) packaging technologies.

In August 2010, there were at least 4,000 African-American companies exclusively devoted to technology, 14, 000 in professional and technical services and 71,000 in administrative support, according to the Current Population Survey.  That adds up to 89,000 using technology to some degree.

That compares with 90,000 in construction.

Yet the vast majority of the 1,702 contracts to African-American-owned businesses through July 2010 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were for construction.

We were only able to pinpoint two contracts from NASA for $600,000 each to black businesses for research and development – both to semiconductor manufacturers.  They are: TLC Precision Wafer Technologies of Minneapolis, MN and Epitaxial Techologies llc of Baltimore, MD.

Rare was the $3 million custom computer programming contract to Blue Collar Objects llc of Fairfax, VA