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Blog Category: BusinessUSA

Business Sunday Comes to South Florida

By Marie R. Gill, Operator and Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center in Miami and Josh Dickson, Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the US Department of Commerce

Earlier this month, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Miami hosted its first Business Sunday at Samaritan Christian Center in Hallandale Beach, Florida, in partnership with the Miami District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Hallandale Parks and Recreation Department, the Hallandale Beach Community Reinvestment Agency (CRA), Career Source South Florida, the City of Miami and ACCION USA. Business Sunday is a program focused on promoting local economic growth and job creation by connecting congregations and communities with the valuable business development resources offered by the Federal Government.  A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Minority Business Development Agency and BusinessUSA Business Sunday builds ladders of opportunity by meeting people where they are at and ensuring they have access to everything they need to start or grow their business.

Business Sunday in Hallandale Beach featured business development presentations from MBDA and SBA at Samaritan Christian Center, followed by a two-hour, one-on-one networking and information-sharing session at the Community Center at Foster Park. In her presentation, Ms. Marie R. Gill, Operator and Executive Director of the MBDA Business Center in Miami, explained the various services that are available from federal agencies, provided information on resources available through the BusinessUSA website and highlighted ways that the MBDA Business Center can support the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses through access to capital, access to contracts and access to domestic and global markets. She also discussed the various collaborations the Center has formed - including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the SBA - to provide the requisite level of support for MBDA’s clients. In addition, Ms. Althea Harris, a Program Director at the Miami District Office of the SBA, provided information on services and resources available directly from the SBA and its program partners.

During his presentation, Bishop Adderley, speaking to the 250-person congregation, thanked MBDA, SBA and all the supporting partners for choosing Hallandale Beach to launch Business Sunday in South Florida. “It is wonderful that these programs and resources are being brought directly to us in our community,” he said, “and I encourage all members attending, and those listening and watching online, to take advantage of these opportunities.”

As a result of this first initiative, the MBDA Business Center in Miami will embark on a new collaboration with the City of Hallandale Beach CRA in order to more easily access local businesses and to provide specialized consulting services and managerial coaching to minority-owned businesses.

Spotlight on Commerce: Efrain Gonzalez, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, BusinessUSA

Efrain Gonzalez, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, BusinessUSA

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

Guest blog post by Efrain Gonzalez, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer, BusinessUSA

I currently serve as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer at BusinessUSA, a Presidential Initiative and partnership between the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration. Our mission is to help American entrepreneurs, businesses owners and executives successfully start and grow their business by making it easier for them to find and access the right government resources. Put simply, my role as part of BusinessUSA is to make sure people, money and strategy come together to achieve this mission.

From my first days at Commerce, I have been privileged to serve on initiatives and projects aimed to either directly serve the needs of businesses or assist the agencies that directly serve U.S. businesses. Prior to joining BusinessUSA, I served as Chief of the Office of Business Development for the Minority Business Development Agency where I worked on the Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Recovery Projects and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For me, it’s this type of mission-driven work that we do here at Commerce that connects me to my roots as a first-generation American growing up in East Los Angeles and Montebello, California, a suburb just east of LA.

My father was an entrepreneur who owned a service station. Like many kids of hardworking business owners in this country, I spent my weekends working with him to support the family business. I watched him succeed, and I watched him struggle. I saw his commitment to his employees and how the responsibility of making his payroll sometimes weighed on him. Later, when I took over managing the business for a short time, I felt the weight of that responsibility myself. But, I think that just like many Mexican immigrants to this country, my dad thought that all those long days and weekends were a fair price for the opportunity to build a better life for his family. His hard work gave me the opportunity to attend good schools and eventually graduate from the University of Southern California (USC). My years running the family business helped to build the foundation that my career at Commerce and before that, at USC, has been built on.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today released the fiscal year 2015 budget request for the U.S. Department of Commerce. The FY15 budget request supports and builds on President Obama’s vision for creating economic opportunity for all Americans, and includes critical funding for key Commerce priorities: promoting trade and investment, spurring innovation, and fueling our data-driven economy. The $8.8 billion FY15 budget request directly aligns with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects Commerce's role as the voice of business and the Obama Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. 

The Commerce Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget reflects the Department's role as the voice of business in the Administration by making critical investments in our long-term growth and competitiveness. The budget prioritizes high-tech manufacturing and innovation, U.S. trade and investment, infrastructure, skills training, unleashing government data and gathering and acting on environmental intelligence, while also cutting red tape to help businesses grow. 

The FY 2015 Department of Commerce budget includes key investments in the following areas:

Promoting Trade and Investment: To promote exports and greater foreign investment in the U.S., the budget includes $497 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), an eight percent increase over the 2014 enacted level. Funding for ITA includes $15 million to accelerate operations of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), an interagency effort to address unfair trade practices and barriers to boost U.S. exports, and $20 million to expand SelectUSA, which promotes re-shoring and actively brings job-creating investment to the United States from around the world.

Spurring Innovation: To foster a more innovative U.S. economy, the budget will increase regional and national capacity for innovative manufacturing, be the principal defender and champion of the digital economy, continue to support research and development (R&D) that leads to transformative changes in technology, and promote intellectual property policy that supports innovation. 

Fueling a Data-Driven Economy: Data powers the 21st century economy, and Commerce Department data touches every American and informs business decisions every day.

Gathering and Acting on Environmental Intelligence: The Department’s environment agenda aims to help communities and businesses prepare for and prosper in a changing environment. The budget provides $2 billion to fully fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) next generation of weather satellites, which are critical to its ability to provide accurate information to decision-makers throughout the government and private sector, as well as time-sensitive weather forecasts and warnings that help protect lives and property.

Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative: The President is also proposing the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, which will be fully paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms. It will demonstrate how, by simply changing a few tax provisions and reforming spending programs, Congress could achieve significant economic goals in research, education, manufacturing and skills training. The initiative is consistent with the model established in Murray-Ryan, providing equal dollar-for-dollar increases above the current law discretionary spending caps for both defense and non-defense. 

More information can be found at the Commerce Department's press release U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request. 

BusinessUSA Recognized for Leading Innovative Collaboration to Support Businesses

Categories:
BusinessUSA

BusinessUSA was named as one of six winners yesterday for the 2014 Igniting Innovation Award, which recognizes government and industry individuals and teams who bring innovative thinking through their IT products, services, systems and solutions that benefit federal government and citizens.

Managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration (SBA), BusinessUSA is the federal government’s official assistance resource for American businesses. The platform was launched in February 2012 to serve as a “one-stop-shop” that provides businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the full range of government services and resources available to them at every stage of development.

With thousands of federal, state and local resources, BusinessUSA makes it easier for businesses to locate, access, and utilize resources most relevant to their needs. The website also saves businesses valuable time by providing easy access to information and services through several customer service channels.

In fact, President Obama today called for the White House Rural Council, in coordination with the Commerce Department, SBA and other agencies, to utilize the BusinessUSA platform as part of a new “Made in Rural America” initiative. Specifically, the agencies were tasked with using BusinessUSA to better connect rural businesses with export and investment resources through coordinated support from across the government.

Help America’s Businesses by Becoming a Presidential Innovation Fellow

Presidential Innovation Fellows logo

Guest blog post by Dennis Alvord, Executive Director of BusinessUSA

Today is a very exciting day for American businesses because the Administration has just launched Round 2 of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.  This high-profile White House-sponsored program brings top innovators, entrepreneurs, and change agents into government for 6-12 months to develop game-changing solutions that benefit the American people in all kinds of ways – saving lives, saving taxpayer money, and helping to fuel job growth. 

Under the BusinessUSA initiative, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration are pleased to support the MyUSA presidential innovation fellow project that helps American businesses access the information and services that will help them grow, hire American workers, and export to foreign markets.

Building on the work of the inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows, motivated by President Obama's call for a smarter, leaner government, and inspired by innovative models of collaboration in the private sector, the Round 2 MyUSA Fellows will take government customer service to a new level. In particular, small businesses and exporters have a fundamental problem navigating the Federal Government’s myriad resources.  It can be difficult to locate information about government assistance programs or find and complete the correct forms for taxes or business operations.  MyUSA is working to solve these problems.  The project team will build and beta-test new features and tools for entrepreneurs and businesses with the purpose of cutting red tape, increasing efficiency, and supporting American businesses and American jobs.

BusinessUSA Launches Offering Businesses One Location to Find Key Federal Information and Data

BusinessUSA

Over the past three years, business owners and entrepreneurs have told us that they don’t have the time or resources to navigate the maze of government agencies and need a one stop shop where they could go for all the assistance they need at every stage of their development.  As President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month, we need to give U.S. businesses every opportunity and tool to succeed and not a maze to navigate.  And as Secretary Bryson has said multiple times while traveling to manufacturers in Columbus, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis, we need to support American businesses so they can build their products here in America and sell them everywhere around the world.

This is why the Obama Administration is launching a new online platform, BusinessUSA, to help small businesses and exporters of all sizes find information about available federal programs without having to waste time and resources navigating the federal bureaucracy. BusinessUSA combines information and services from 10 different government agencies through one consolidated website and coordinate telephone support through a single 1-800 number. The BusinessUSA website went live today with hundreds of business resources consolidated in one place including Commerce’s International Trade Agency, Census Bureau, Patent and Trademark Office, several other Commerce bureaus, as well as, multiple other government agencies.

BusinessUSA is a platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire from the day they need technical assistance to start a business, to the day they start building a product and need financing, to the day they are ready to export and need help breaking into new markets overseas.

It’s a “No Wrong Door” approach for small businesses and exporters, creating a common platform to match businesses with the services relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located or which agency’s website, call center, or office they go to for help.  And as more federal agencies publish content through web services, the more we will be able to highlight the most relevant information and programs from across the government. 

Secretary Bryson on Making it Easier to Do Business in America

Infographic on Various Ways a Business Can Contact the Federal Government for Services

Guest blog post by John Bryson, Secretary of Commerce. Cross-posted at Chamber Post.

Today, the President announced his plan to ask Congress for the authority to reorganize and consolidate the government so we can provide more effective, efficient services to the American people.  He wants this authority, which Presidents had until it lapsed in 1984, so that we can modernize our structure to better compete in the global economy and maximize services for the American people.  And the first priority would be to strengthen the ways that American businesses – large and small – can work with the government to compete, export, and grow.

There is not a federal agency that can't be better or smarter in accomplishing its mission.  That's why this consolidation authority is so critical.  Many of the structures in place right now are outmoded and outdated. 

More specifically, today the President also announced that he would use such authority to organize all of the business and trade related functions into a new department, including many functions of the Commerce Department.

Currently, there are six major departments and agencies that focus primarily on business and trade in the federal government, including: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency.

Consolidating these agencies will create one new Department with one mission: to spur job creation and expand the U.S. economy.