July 20, 2004 -- Some in the business community are asking the federal government to give their designation of "small disadvantaged business" the heave-ho.

"I don't think that in the 21st century the characterization is a positive description," said Susan Phillips Bari, president of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, which, along with Community Development Corp. of Long Island, is driving a push for a name change to "growth market enterprises."

The groups believe the current term holds negative connotations that prevent companies designated as such from new business opportunities. Approximately 9.1 million businesses employing about 27.5 million workers fall into this category.

Born in the 1970s, the term applies to some companies that are run by minorities or women, or companies that are based in economically "disadvantaged" areas. Qualifying for this title may allow certain businesses to apply for specific programs that are available through the Small Business Administration. However, some say that the designation is actually hurting those it is trying to help.

One representative from the SBA said on background that the name may be in need of change, although the agency had no official comment.

Should a designation change come about, it would not happen fast, requiring votes in Congress to pass.