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Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- At Sweets and Eats Cupcakes in New Orleans East, owner Scott Hunter opened up shop less than a year ago, looking for the sweet taste of success.

'I decided to go this route, because everyone loves sweets,' Hunter said. 'Can't say no to sweets.'

Sweets and Eats is Hunter's first brick and mortar business and he said there were challenges to get there.

'Marketing is always a challenge,' he said. 'Initially, even getting the doors open was a challenge -- going through some of the hurdles with the different city departments to get permits and opening the doors.'

Those concerns are part of a new report from the New Orleans Chapter of the Urban League. 'The 2012 State of Black New Orleans' examines issues in the city's African American community: from politics to health to education to the business climate.

Its release comes one day before the National Urban League kicks off its annual conference in New Orleans.

'We wanted to look at the perceptions of minority business owners about opportunities in the city,' said political analyst Dr. Silas Lee.

Lee helped co-author the economic section of the report, by surveying 175 business owners in the city.

'You had different results -- extremely different results -- by race,' he said. 'African Americans feel extremely discouraged and disconnected.'

That pessimism is reflected in the numbers. When asked if minority-owned businesses have the same access to opportunities as non-minority businesses, 42 percent of whites surveyed said yes, but only 9 percent of African American business owners felt the same way.

Also, nearly 80 percent of African American respondents said they were 'a little or not satisfied at all' with business opportunities in the city.

'To correct that, we must have some resources, some commitments from the political as well as the economic and business leadership in this community,' Lee said.

As for Scott Hunter, he is hedging his bets on business in the New Orleans East.

'If you've been here since Katrina, you've seen the changes,' he said. 'And I do take an optimistic view, and I can't be anything but positive about the growth of my business.'

For more information on the report, click here.

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