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Blog Category: Minority Business Development Agency

Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center’s MED Week Event Helps Local Entrepreneurs, Businesses Expand Their Opportunities

Isabella Cascarano, U.S. Embassy of Dominican Republic,  Jose Burgos USEAC, of Puerto Rico, James W. Brewster, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Gabriela Morales, MBDA Business Development Specialist, Teresa Berrios, Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center's Director, and Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA's National Director, ready to meet local entrepreneurs during the Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center's MED Week Conference in San Juan's Condado Plaza Hotel, Jan. 30.

Puerto Rican businesses and entrepreneurs looking for opportunities that drive growth found them during Puerto Rico’s MBDA Business Center’s Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) conference held on January 30th in San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hotel.

The MED Week in Puerto Rico continued the celebration of the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) 45th Anniversary.  It was also another opportunity to amplify our continued efforts in Puerto Rico to assist minority-owned firms grow in size and scale, and diversify into the industries of tomorrow.

To that end, this past year, we engaged the Puerto Rico MBDA Business Center on several important business endeavors.  One of them was ensuring that minority firms in Puerto Rico were well positioned to export, and that’s precisely why we invited James W. Brewster, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic to be the keynote speaker at this year’s MED Week event.  As a critical trade partner, we wanted to talk about the exporting opportunities that exist in the Dominican Republic, but also throughout all the Caribbean nations.

San Antonio MBDA Business Center’s Export Strategies Support Foreign Direct Investment

Look South logo

The San Antonio MBDA Business Center’s specialty is helping minority businesses (MBEs) find exporting opportunities in Latin America. Aligning with White House initiatives such as Look South, the center has assisted numerous MBEs develop international market entry strategies that vary by sector, size, capabilities, targeted countries and regions

The MBDA Business Center’s San Antonio Global Pathways Initiative has proven to be a conduit of global opportunities for domestic MBE clients. As a result of this success, some clients have engaged in partnerships with foreign enterprises.

“One of the tasks associated with the services we offer MBE’s preparing to export is to assist them with business to business relationships,” said Orestes Hubbard, Director of the San Antonio MBDA Business Center. “This service creates a two way opportunity for our client that sometimes serves as a platform to bring foreign direct investment into the U.S.”

BBM Staffing, LLC, a Mexican staffing services company, is an example of the benefit of the business to business relationship concept. The center has helped BBM Staffing, LLC expand their presence in Texas by helping them gain access to markets and capital for their operations.

El Paso MBDA Business Center Kicks Off the New Year with Business Sunday

El Paso MBDA Business Center Kicks Off the New Year with Business Sunday

Guest blog post by Michelle Luevano, Director of the El Paso MBDA Business Center 

The MBDA Business Center-El Paso (Texas), operated by the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the New Year with its first Business Sunday Event at Destiny Family Christian Center this past weekend. The event was organized in collaboration with the local El Paso SBA office and the Women’s Business Border Center (a joint project of the U.S. SBA and the Hispanic Chamber). The program was part of a larger effort at the national level to promote local economic growth and job creation by connecting congregations and communities with valuable business development resources offered by the federal government. Business Sunday is a reflection of President Obama's commitment to strengthening the economy by empowering people - business owners, entrepreneurs, community development organizations, faith-based groups and others - to effect positive change at the local level. 

Over 30 entrepreneurs, all at different stages in their entrepreneurial journey, gathered at Destiny Family Christian Center to learn about the resources the MBDA Business Center, SBA, and Women’s Business Border Center have to offer. Participants were given a brief presentation regarding each of the entrepreneurial technical assistance centers and were then encouraged to meet one on one with the local Business Development Specialists in attendance. Terri Reed, Project Director for the El Paso MBDA Business Center, said of the program, “This program is an excellent way of bringing business resources to entrepreneurs. Whether they are interested in starting a business or already have a business, we can provide resources and tools necessary to help them grow and be successful. Destiny Family Christian Center was a wonderful congregation to partner with as we launched this new project.” 

As a result of the success of this first event, the MBDA Business Center-El Paso will be reaching out to other congregations in the area to host similar events and connect more entrepreneurs with the resources necessary to make them successful.

Minority-owned firms seeking to penetrate new markets — domestic & global — and growing in size and scale, can access business experts at a MBDA Business Center. Whether it’s securing capital, competing for a contract, identifying a strategic partner or becoming export-ready, your success is our priority. 

The Centers are located in areas with the largest concentration of minority populations and the largest number of minority businesses. The Centers are staffed by business specialists who have the knowledge and practical experience needed to run successful and profitable businesses. Business referral services are provided free of charge. However, the network generally charges nominal fees for specific management and technical assistance services.

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.

MBDA Making Operational Excellence a Priority in 2014

For 45 years, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) programs have focused on providing greater access to business opportunities that better equip minority business owners to create jobs, build scale and capacity, and contribute to the U.S. economy.  

In response to the President’s call to make 2014 “a year of action,” MBDA ensured that we reached many more minority-owned firms throughout the nation. In addition to reaching new heights, MBDA was active in expanding its reach and services for the rapidly growing segment of the economy we serve. We opened seven new MBDA Business Centers in Baltimore, MD, Bridgeport, CT, Houston, TX, Bronx, NY, St. Louis, MO, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C. 

MBDA also launched a concentrated effort focused on engaging minority business enterprises in emerging industry opportunities. Our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy helps develop access and capacity for minority-owned firms to engage in the growing energy industry. 

In October, we provided our San Francisco MBDA Business Center with supplemental funding to establish a Technology Transfer and Innovation specialty center. The Technology Transfer and Innovation specialty center is designed to engage minority-owned firms in tech transfer and “lab-to-market” initiatives.  The San Francisco MBDA Business Center’s proximity to Silicon Valley, a leading hub for high-tech innovation and development, provides a prime opportunity to help minority-owned businesses leverage “lab to market” opportunities and ensure greater participation in the growing energy sector by assisting in capacity building and market entry. 

We also provided supplemental funding to seven other MBDA Business Centers to specialize in advanced manufacturing and healthcare technology, exports to Africa, exports to Mexico and South America and aerospace supply chain mapping. 

These efforts have anchored our Agency as a critical resource for the over 5.8 million U.S. minority-owned firms. And, as MBDA marches forward in the next 45 years, we will continue the pursuit of operational excellence and focusing on maximizing its value to customers. 

To learn more about how MBDA continues to pursue operational excellence in all aspects of the Agency in order to best serve the nation’s minority-owned businesses visit www.mbda.gov.

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.