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Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week


Hello everyone! I’m honored to join you all here at MED Week. I’m particularly pleased to welcome not only our federal partners, members of the Department of Commerce family, and our minority businesses to this gathering, but also our friends from the National Minority Supplier Development Council, who have teamed up with MBDA for the first time this year to commemorate this historic milestone for the minority business community.

I know, just as you all do, that the road to America’s economic prosperity runs through our minority business communities. My four-time great grandparents built a successful horse and buggy taxi business that sat on the land where the Department of Commerce building sits today. Their son owned a premier hotel just blocks away and became one of our nation’s first Black patent-holders.

Their success as minority entrepreneurs was crucial for our family’s well-being and contributed to this country’s success story. And their story should not be an anomaly – it should be the norm.

The Biden-Harris Administration understands that better than anyone else, and has empowered the Department of Commerce, specifically the Minority Business Development Agency, to ensure that minority-owned business and the entrepreneurs behind them have the tools, resources, and support they need to not just take part in, but drive the economic success of this country.

Thanks to President Biden’s leadership and a joint bipartisan effort, MBDA was given a permanent seat at the table at the Department of Commerce, to be a leading voice for minority business enterprises. And thanks to the impressive leadership of Under Secretary Cravins – my dear friend and fellow Don – MBDA’s voice, scope, and impact has expanded to meet the growing needs of our minority business community.

Alongside Vice President Harris, Under Secretary Cravins and I have had continuous conversations with entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

In May, we met with young Black entrepreneurs. We heard about their hopes, their dreams, and the challenges they face like accessing credit and capital. A struggle that many of us know all too well. We discussed specific steps that the federal government can take to support entrepreneurs in their shoes. What we learned from all these conversations has helped to inform all these programs, policies, and initiatives that we’re developing.

In August, at the announcement of the winners of MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program – a $125 million program for business incubators and accelerators designed to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses in their communities.

Being there and connecting with our small business partners from across the country reaffirmed for me why this work is so important, and just how successful MBDA has been at advancing their mission.

The MBDA team works with over 130 centers and programs from every state and territory in the country, providing them with technical assistance and business support services to the minority and underserved businesses, as well as by operating as a convener and guiding compass for the federal government in order to improve the system in which those businesses operate.

And the fruits of that labor are clear.

In Fiscal Year 2022 alone, MBDA had one of its most successful years helping businesses secure capital and contracts. This last year, we helped business secure:

  • Over $1 billion in capital;
  • Over $1.6 billion in contracts, private and government; and
  • Nearly $300 million in export transactions.

All of this investment will help to drastically change our communities for the better and help ensure that minority, small, and underserved businesses can have an equal opportunity to participate, compete, and thrive. Not only in America, but in export markets abroad.

MBDA’s work also goes hand-in-hand with the other marquee programs and initiatives being spearheaded at the Commerce Department and delivering for President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and more, are delivering trillions of dollars to the American people through additional contracting opportunities at the state and local level.

Through these landmark laws passed by President Biden, we are rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports, and ports. We are making internet for all a reality. We are revitalizing domestic manufacturing and reclaiming our global leadership on semiconductors. We are helping millions of American realize the American dream and lead lives of dignity – in all of our communities and all of our businesses to be in the driver’s seat of our own destiny.

The work that MBDA accomplishes every day is one of the many things that make me proud to help lead this incredible Department. And it makes me even prouder to be in here recognizing, honoring, and celebrating that work today. Thank you.