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Blog Category: Minority Business Development Agency

Fostering Economic Development in Tribal Communities and Among Native-owned Enterprises

Today, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the Economic Development Administration teamed up to launch the Tribal Economic Development Webinar Series. Beginning on November 19, 2014, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) will host five webinars over the course of one year. This series is designed to help tribal leaders, tribal administrators, Native American-owned enterprises, and tribal advocacy organizations understand federal resources available for tribal economic development. 

The Department of Commerce is focused on bolstering its working relationships with tribal communities. Through the work of its diverse set of bureaus, the Department is committed to fostering a more innovative economy – one that is better at addressing the needs of Indian Country by improving and creating the conditions for economic success, higher productivity and competitiveness.

Paving the Way for a New Legion of Entrepreneurs and Innovators

Paving the Way for a New Legion of Entrepreneurs and Innovators

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews last week spoke at the National Asian Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE) Conference and reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to strengthening AAPI businesses in the U.S. and around the globe. He showcased the Department’s wide array of programs available to help the AAPI community successfully grow their businesses and knock down barriers in the process.  

With more than two million thriving AAPI businesses, the Commerce Department is focused on providing the necessary tools to help AAPI entrepreneurs stay viable and competitive in the global marketplace through partnering with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), International Trade Administration (ITA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Census Bureau, and the SelectUSA program just to name a few.

During his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews emphasized the important role the Department’s agencies play in assisting AAPI entrepreneurs and innovators in everything from providing business counseling and other federal government resources to protecting intellectual property rights more expediently to disseminating data that spawn new businesses and promote better decision-making in existing businesses. Today, there are more than 1.5 million AAPI-owned firms that generate more than $500 billion in revenue. They employ more than 50 percent of all workers in minority firms nationwide.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo also spoke to the chamber about the importance of leveraging strategic partnerships and export opportunities. MBDA currently has 44 business centers designed to assist businesses gain more access to contracts, working capital and global markets. They also opened the first ever MBDA Federal Procurement Center designed solely to help minority-owned firms with annual revenues of more than $1 million, such as AAPI businesses, overcome some of the challenges it has faced in the past when accessing federal programs.

Through a myriad of services, MBDA has also helped AAPI entrepreneurs successfully gain contracts and enter into new markets around the world, including Vietnam, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

ITA is also helping small- and medium sized businesses sell their products and services around the world, with more than 100 Export Assistance Centers across the U.S. that offer hands on marketing and trade and finance support.

The Commerce Department remains steadfast in its efforts to continue helping AAPI businesses grow. 

Connecting Minority Serving Institutions with Research and Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Earlier this month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) hosted a special event for minority serving institutions to foster collaborations that could increase minority participation in scientific research and entrepreneurship. Representatives from large and small colleges and universities across the country gathered to learn about NIST’s national research priorities and about “lab-to-market” opportunities from both NIST and the MBDA.

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo explained why the event was timely in her opening remarks when she said, “Wealth creation is happening in the high technology sector, but only four percent of those businesses are minority owned. Minority serving institutions are not only positioned to educate scientists and engineers, but to create partnerships for the businesses of tomorrow.”

Attendees learned about the many opportunities for partnering with NIST from Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Acting NIST Director Willie May, who explained the importance of collaboration to NIST’s world-class research. NIST collaborates with a number of organizations and institutions of higher learning as it addresses national priorities including cybersecurity, manufacturing, communications, forensics, disaster resilience and healthcare and bioscience. “Last year, we provided about $200 million in grants to institutions of higher education that can collaborate with us and assist us in carrying out our mission,” said May.

May highlighted the variety of opportunities at NIST for undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral, associate and visiting researchers. Of NIST’s approximately 1,600 associate researchers who come from academia, about one quarter are from Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Minority Serving Institutes (MSIs).

The event was initiated by George Cooper, director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), who said he realized there was great potential at NIST for supporting partnerships between HBCUs and the federal government.

Day two’s agenda focused on moving research and technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace. Participants learned about the federal government’s role in technology transfer and the Lab-to-Market Programs in NIST’s Technology Partnerships Office and the MBDA’s San Francisco Business Center. A panel discussion including representatives from industry and non-profit and advocacy groups that support emerging businesses offered best practices for getting from lab to market.

Throughout the event, participants were encouraged to develop relationships not only with NIST and the MBDA, but also with one another. As Cooper put it, their partnerships could “leverage the strengths of multiple institutions” to increase engagement with federal agencies.

MBDA Business Centers Provide Technical Expertise Helping Minority Business Entrepreneurs Reach Success

MBDA Business Centers Provide Technical Expertise Helping Minority Business Entrepreneurs Reach Success

For more than four decades, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) has led Federal Government efforts to provide focused support to minority businesses enterprises (MBEs), which are increasingly critical contributors to the U.S. economy. 

With an eco-system of 44 MBDA Business Centers located across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, the Agency’s national programs and initiatives provide increased access to contracts, capital and markets. Although the centers are strategically located in areas with the largest number of MBEs, there are no geographical boundaries for service delivery, which allows MBDA clients, regardless of their location, to seek services from any MBDA Business Center. 

Nine of the business centers are “specialty centers” that deliver expert industry and market consulting and services in the areas of U.S. exports and business linkages in emerging economies, advanced manufacturing initiatives, and technology transfer and innovation. 

“At MBDA our goal is to expand the Agency’s reach, expertise, and resources to serve as many minority business enterprises through our national network of MBDA Business Centers,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA National Director. “We want to ensure that we provide greater assistance to minority-owned businesses to support job creation and the continued growth of the U.S. economy.” 

Besides all the technical assistance, it’s the face-to-face time with minority entrepreneurs that is the core strength of the MBDA Business Centers. 

“MBDA has functioned like a partner to my company, providing me with consulting services that led to joint ventures, capital financing, and contracting opportunities,” said Clarence McAllister, Owner of Fortis Networks and client of the Phoenix MBDA Business Center. 

For complete listing of all MBDA Business Centers, their unique capabilities and contact information, please visit www.mbda.gov.

MBDA Business Centers Celebrate MED Week During October

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Centers across America celebrated Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, a venue for minority-owned businesses to access information, tools, and resources to grow their businesses both domestically and abroad. 

Each year, thousands of minority-owned firms across a variety of industries converge upon various cities to connect with public and private sector buyers, explore avenues for business expansion, and develop thriving partnerships with firms across multiple industry sectors. These goals are accomplished through networking events, workshops, and issue forums including, business-to-business matchmaking, and networking opportunities with multinational corporations, government representatives and leading entrepreneurs. The MBDA Business Centers culminate the week with an awards presentation where they honor minority-owned firms, entrepreneurs and advocates who are contributing to the minority-business community. 

“The MED Week legacy was started 32 years ago under the Ronald Reagan Administration,” said Joann Hill, Chief of MBDA’s Office of Business Development, at the Baltimore MBDA Business Center’s MED Week on Oct. 20. “Honored by Presidential Proclamation, MED Week epitomizes the legacy of champions in the minority business community who have and continue to advocate for equity, parity, and the opportunity to compete on a level playing field for women and minority-owned businesses.” 

The Phoenix MBDA Business Center used the MED Week opportunity to partner with the Thunderbird School of Global Management for the second annual Global Business Conference. During the two-day conference, topics included international business opportunities with Mexico, Canada, India, China, Africa and South America and the nuts and bolts needed to succeed in international business: financing, risk mitigation and logistics. Overall, the event provided a platform to talk about the National Export Initiative (NEI) and how it can benefit minority business enterprises. 

In Chicago, the focus was on merger and acquisition opportunities, as the MBDA Business Center there partnered with the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) to co-host the 2014 Minority Finance Forum and 15th Annual Midwest ACG Capital Connection. 

MBDA celebrated the National MED Week event in August and is already planning for next year’s celebration. For more information on MED Week or on our MBDA Business Centers, please visit: www.mbda.gov.

Commerce Partners with Small Business Administration for the Launch of Business Sunday in Houston, Texas

Commerce Partners with Small Business Administration for the Launch of Business Sunday in Houston, Texas

Last weekend, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched Business Sunday at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, TX. Business Sunday is an outreach and educational program that takes place in local communities around the country, connecting current and future business leaders with valuable resources to help them start or expand their businesses.

On Sunday, Windsor Village’s Senior Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell welcomed representatives from SBA, Commerce’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), along with representatives from the city of Houston and other local entities, for the first in a series of Business Sundays that will take place around the country. More than 500 people attended the event, showcasing the strong demand among business owners and entrepreneurs for information on the high-impact business development resources offered by the federal government.
 
Originally piloted in Washington, DC, at the 19th Street Baptist Church in March 2014, the Business Sunday program consists of MBDA Business Centers partnering with SBA field offices and a local congregation to present information on federal business development resources from Commerce, MBDA, SBA, BusinessUSA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The event also provides attendees with an opportunity to connect one-on-one with the field staff. In the near future, additional Business Sunday events will be held in Philadelphia, PA; Mobile, AL; Washington, DC; Indianapolis, IN; El Paso, TX; Miami, FL; Denver, Co; Phoenix, AZ and Seattle, Washington. Details on upcoming events will be released once available.
 

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo Challenges Young Latina Entrepreneurs to Think Big

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo speaks at the Latinas Think Big Conference

Last week, Alejandra Castillo, the first Hispanic American woman appointed as the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency, participated in a panel discussion at the Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit at Google’s Mountain View Campus. The Summit brought together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers to exchange ideas, address important issues, and connect attendees to high-caliber networks.

Created by Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin, PhD, Latinas Think Big™ is a progressive platform and national tour created to bring together innovative ideas and groundbreaking projects of Latinas around the country. “I created Latinas Think Big™ to showcase the innovative ideas, talents and groundbreaking projects of Latinas around the country. I wanted to bring talented Latinas and thought leaders to the stages of well-regarded institutions like Columbia University and powerful companies like Google, for the world to 'see' how Latinas are contributing to the country's social and economic well-being,” said Dr. Perez-Litwin.  

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners, between 2002 and 2007 Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 43.7 percent to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18 percent between the same period of time. Hispanic women-owned businesses are the fastest growing business demographic, increasing 43 percent between 2002 and 2007.

Latinas Think Big creates a space in which young women have access to speak to professional women across all sectors. At the event, Castillo talked to the audience of young Latinas about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation. “As entrepreneurs, you need to understand that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the U.S. borders. The fact that you speak Spanish, the fact that you are Latinos, and the fact that you understand the business culture of Colombia, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, positions you in a very unique place to be able to tap into those markets. When thinking about entrepreneurial ideas, think about how to go global,” stated Castillo.

Minority Businesses Keep the “Made in America” Brand Strong

Recent studies have shown that the pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to rise. Minority businesses are playing an integral part in that growth and are helping to keep the “Made in America” product strong.

This year, the Minority Business Development Agency recognized two businesses for outstanding manufacturing impact and achieving significant success in employing new and innovative techniques that led to a significant increase in market share, job growth and customer satisfaction.

The first was Detroit Manufacturing Systems, LLC (DMS). DMS currently has more than 700 employees and develops state-of-the-art automotive interior systems. By utilizing the latest technologies, DMS assembles and manufactures injection molded interior trim components for global automotive brands, all with a firm commitment to quality and efficiency.

The second award was given to Ruiz Food Products, Inc. Fred Ruiz cofounded Ruiz Food Products, Inc., with his father Louis in a small warehouse in Tulare, Ca. in 1964. The company is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, and employs 2,300 people. Ruiz Food Products has three manufacturing facilities – in Dinuba, Calif., Tulare, Calif., and Denison, Texas – and recently purchased another facility in Florence County, S.C.

MBDA National Director Concludes Trip Connecting California Minority-Owned Businesses with Commerce Department Resources

MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo addressing the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Yesterday, MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo concluded her week-long tour of California where she spoke to local businesses and community leaders about the Obama Administration’s work to spur continued economic growth and job creation through support of exporters, entrepreneurs, and small, women- and minority-owned businesses. 

Earlier this week, Castillo joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in Oakland where the Secretary delivered remarks highlighting a number of Commerce Department resources available to help foster economic growth among minority-owned businesses. The Secretary also discussed the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy agenda focused on boosting trade and investment, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing more government data. 

Following the Secretary’s remarks in Oakland, Castillo led a panel discussion on economic development that helped to connect local business leaders and economic development organizations with the expertise of the Department and its resources. The forum featured Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC) Director of Corporate Development, Alison Germak; Port of Oakland’s Director of Aviation, Deborah Ale Flint; Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. 

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Shares Economic Development Opportunities in California

Representative Barbara Lee, Secretary Penny Pritzker, Clifton Burch, President at Empire Engineering & Construction, Inc. and MBDA National Director Alejandra Castillo

Last year, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveiled the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy agenda focused on boosting trade and investment, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and unleashing more government data. Yesterday, she took the Agenda on the road to California. Along with Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) National Director Alejandra Castillo, Secretary Pritzker spoke to local businesses and community leaders about the Obama Administration’s work to spur continued economic growth and job creation through support of exporters, entrepreneurs, and small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

Secretary Pritzker joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), a strong advocate for minority economic development and trade policy, at a regional economic development forum at the Oakland Airport, hosted by Lee. The Secretary delivered remarks highlighting a number of Commerce Department resources available to help foster economic growth. Noting that exporting is an essential tool for economic development, she discussed the Commerce Department’s NEI/NEXT initiative, a data-based, customer-driven effort to help U.S. companies increase their exports to international markets. Secretary Pritzker also talked about the work of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help manufacturers boost productivity and growth, as well as investments by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help attract new industries and create jobs. Through these and other tools, the Commerce Department is helping businesses in California and across the country to grow and hire. 

Following the Secretary’s remarks, MBDA National Director Castillo led a panel discussion on economic development that helped to connect local business leaders and economic development organizations with the expertise of the Department and its resources. The forum featured OPIC’s Director of Corporate Development, Alison Germak; Port of Oakland’s Director of Aviation, Deborah Ale Flint; Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. 

Before the event, Secretary Pritzker also participated in a roundtable discussion with East Bay business leaders, hosted by Rep. Lee. They discussed regional economic development, supplier diversity and the importance of gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership. Earlier in the day, Secretary Pritzker and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee met with leaders of local technology companies, including Twitter, Yelp, Kiva, and others, ​to discuss the Department of Commerce’s expanding role as “America’s Data Agency." Secretary Pritzker specifically asked how the government can most effectively make additional data available, and what public-private partnerships are currently serving as strong models that can be replicated when it comes to data dissemination.​