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Blog Category: Minority Business Development Agency

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.​ 

Commerce Department Recognizes Minority Business Community Champions

Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency Alejandra Castillo, and MBDA Public Affairs Team Lead Velicia Woods congratulate a MED Week Award winner

Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews recognized the 2014 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Award winners during a ceremony at the annual MED Week Conference in Washington, D.C. MBDA awarded 13 organizations, businesses and individuals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment in advancing the minority business community.

As one of the longest running Minority Business Enterprise events in the United States, the National MED Week Conference recognizes the outstanding achievements of leading minority entrepreneurs and organizations while positioning business owners for opportunities that drive growth. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet delivered remarks to kick off the one-day conference this morning.

The conference provided opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with senior public officials, industry executives and leaders from all over the country and learn about cutting-edge tools that can give their business a more competitive advantage.

The Obama Administration and Commerce Department have been laser-focused on helping businesses create good-paying jobs, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. On July 25, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring this week Minority Enterprise Development Week, during which Americans are celebrating the essential role that minority entrepreneurs and businesses play in our economy and communities.

Simple Steps to Expanding Your Business through Exports

Minority-owned firms employ nearly six million American workers and contribute one trillion dollars in annual economic output to the U.S. economy.

At the Department of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Agency we are dedicated to helping more minority-owned business leverage their competitive advantage and expand their business through exports. The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals how minority-owned firms employ nearly six million American workers and contribute one trillion dollars in annual economic output to the U.S. economy. This economic output includes significant exporting contributions. In fact, minority-owned firms are export leaders in 14 key industry sectors.

To celebrate World Trade Month we are kicking off a blog series to highlight valuable resources and information for minority businesses looking at exporting for the first time and firms looking to expand their existing exporting efforts. 

Here are six steps to start exporting:

Complete an export readiness self-assessment: Find out if you have what it takes to market your products or services into the global marketplace. Provide answers to nine questions and receive advice on your exporting potential.

Training and counseling: use online resources like webinars and training courses to learn the basics of exporting and increase your understanding of the exporting process. Access webinars and online courses from the International Trade Agency (ITA), U.S. Census Bureau Go Global Webinars, and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Develop your Export Business Plan: Use the SBA Export Business Planner to work through the process of gathering information and setting SMART goals and objectives. The Export Business Planner will help your business explore exporting options.

Conduct Market Research: It is critical for you to find the best exporting prospects for your business success. The U.S. government has the latest information on market conditions around the world. You can also use the Trade Stats Express to identify potential markets.

Find Buyers: Leverage opportunities at the local, state, and federal government levels to meet potential foreign buyers. Use reverse trade mission hosted by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency or overseas trade mission hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Many states government also host overseas trade missions check out your states business opportunities websites.

Investigate Export Finance Option: understanding the available grants, insurance and finance programs available to assist your firm as exporting options are critical to your exporting success. Start with federal resources at Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and SBA Export Loans

Take your business to the next level and begin to go and grow globally. MBDA and our national network of more than 40 MBDA Business Centers are here to help. Contact a MBDA Business Center to learn more about how exporting can increase your bottom line.

Also, stay tuned to learn more about the next phase of the National Export Initiative –NEI/NEXT! 

Commerce Connects U.S. Businesses to Opportunities in Africa’s Power Sector

Energy for Africa: 600 million people, 70% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa are without electricity

With its fast-growing middle class and tremendous human, agricultural, and mineral resources, the continent of Africa is attracting investors and businesses from all around the world. Home to seven of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, Sub-Saharan Africa outpaces global average growth. That is why, in 2012, President Obama launched the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Sub-Saharan Africa, now known as the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The Strategy recognizes that Africa holds the promise to be “the world’s next major economic success story,” and the Commerce Department is working help businesses be part of that success story by promoting U.S. trade and investment through the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign.

Today, the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA), Miami MBDA Business Center hosted the Power Africa B2B Summit to promote the public-private partnership model envisioned by President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative. President Obama announced Power Africa last year as an initiative to double the number of people with access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 600 million people lack access to electricity. The United States is investing more than $7 billion in this effort.

At today’s Summit, prominent government and business leaders, including Nigeria’s Power Minister the Honorable Muhammed Wakil, CEOs of Africa’s major power companies, and representatives from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and USAID, joined MBDA to share opportunities for accessing the energy sector in African markets.

Commerce Participates in Business Sunday

Commerce Participates in Business Sunday

This weekend, the Commerce Department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships joined forces with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), BusinessUSA, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and 19th Street Baptist Church to host the first Business Sunday in Washington, DC. 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.

Close to 300 business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders came together for the first Business Sunday, packing the fellowship hall at 19th Street Baptist Church. The event included greetings from Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as well as presentations from SBA, MBDA and BusinessUSA on how to access important technical assistance, business counseling, loans and other practical resources. Participants also had the opportunity to sign up for health insurance for their business or themselves through the DC Health Benefit Exchange. Following the event attendees stayed for more than an hour to network and speak individually with Commerce and SBA staff.

Business Sunday is a reflection of President Obama’s and Secretary Pritkzer’s shared commitment to strengthening our economy by empowering our people – our business owners, entrepreneurs, community development organizations, faith-based groups and others – to effect positive change at the local level. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners to keep this work moving forward.

Department of Commerce releases FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

Plan priorities are in direct alignment with the Department’s “Open for Business Agenda”

Today the Department of Commerce released its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2014 to 2018. The five-year plan, along with the recently released FY15 budget, provides the pathway for meeting the Department’s long-term goals and objectives. The plan, summarizes the key strategies and initiatives that will drive progress in the Department’s five priority areas:

  • Trade and Investment. Expanding the U.S. economy through increased exports and foreign direct investment that leads to more and better American jobs.
  • Innovation. Fostering a more innovative U.S. economy—one that is better at inventing, improving, and commercializing products and technologies that lead to higher productivity and  competitiveness.
  • Data. Improve government, business, and community decisions and knowledge by transforming Department data capabilities and supporting a data-enabled economy.
  • Environment. Ensuring communities and businesses have the necessary information, products, and services to prepare for and prosper in a changing environment.
  • Operational Excellence. Delivering better services, solutions, and outcomes that benefit the American people.

The creation of the strategic plan was a collaborative effort involving staff from every Department of Commerce bureau and serves as a foundation for economic growth and opportunity. The plan is in direct alignment with the  “Open for Business Agenda,” which reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, and the Administration’s focus on economic growth and job creation. Department leaders and employees will use this plan to transform strategies into actions, and actions into results.

Read a summary of the plan or the entire plan.

Files

MBDA Deputy Director Receives Hispanic Business Community Award

Photo of Castillo with event organizers

Cross-posted from MBDA.gov blog by Alberto Betancourt, Press Secretary

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation held their first Hispanic Business Community Awards celebration Oct. 23 at the Capital One Bank headquarters in McLean, Va. The awards recognized the impact of Latino business leaders on the Greater Washington, DC community.

Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA National Deputy Director, was one of five awardees honored at the event. Castillo received the Public Service Leadership award.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” she said. “I have a rewarding job where every day I come to work and have the unique privilege of honoring my father. He emigrated from the Dominican Republic and started his own business. That’s what inspires me to help minority-owned companies grow their own business.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker also congratulated Castillo on the recognition. MBDA blog

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

Annual funding for the government expired on September 30. The Administration strongly believed that a lapse in funding should not occur. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations. Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations (PDF) in the absence of appropriations (a “shutdown plan”).

The plan may be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant. This plan (PDF) complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. All employees who are Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed will remain on duty.

In compliance with the restrictions of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning, and support
• Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
• Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities, and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
• Essential natural resource damage assessment activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident
• Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information.
• Patent and trademark application processing
• Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
• Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
• All services of the National Technical Information Service
• Export enforcement – the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
• Budget operations required to support excepted activities under a shutdown, such as tracking of obligations and funds control.

The following services and activities will not be available during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for Hurricane and FAA flight planning)
• Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
• Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
• Services and activities provided by:
−Bureau of Economic Analysis
−Economic Development Administration
−Economics and Statistics Administration
−Minority Business Development Agency
−Bureau of the Census
• Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration

The Billion Dollar Roundtable

Guest blog post by David Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency. Cross-posted from MBDA.gov.

Each year, since 1955, Fortune Magazine ranks the 500 largest corporations in the United States.  Corporations that are part of the Fortune 500, purchase goods and services from other businesses which in turn support thousands of other companies and millions of jobs across the nation.  Becoming a supplier to a major corporation is a growth strategy that many minority-owned firms incorporate into their business plans, and Fortune 500 corporations have responded by launching supplier diversity programs.  Some are more successful than others. 

The Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) was created 12 years ago to identify and honor those Fortune 500 corporations that have embraced the value of working with diverse suppliers and procuring quality products and services to satisfy their corporate needs.   Every corporation that is a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable is formally committed to procuring at least $1 billion annually in goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses.  Today, there are 18 corporate members of the BDR, with many more on their way to achieving the $1 billion threshold.

Although $1 billion is the benchmark for joining the Billion Dollar Roundtable, AT&T is one corporation exceeding that goal.

On August 21st, I attended the Billion Dollar Roundtable annual summit, where attendees shared best practices in supply chain diversity excellence. There were also discussions about new strategies and opportunities to increase the number of Fortune 500 corporations in the Billion Dollar Roundtable. The Roundtable has accomplished a lot since its founding in 2001.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Denver, Colorado

Secretary Penny Pritzker Meets with Commerce Employees in the Denver Office

While in Denver, Colorado, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker met with the heads of the Commerce Department’s local offices, including: International Trade Administration’s U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Inspector General (IG), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). In addition to these meetings, she also spoke to employees about their work and ways in which their efforts are supporting economic growth and development in Colorado.

Today’s discussion in Denver served as an extension of an employee town hall she held yesterday in Boulder. The secretary emphasized how their work is crucial to creating a better quality of life for Americans and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. She also asked employees for their input in the department’s ongoing efforts to protect, promote, and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.

These employee engagement opportunities are part of the secretary’s overall efforts to serve as a bridge to the business community so that the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.