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Blog Category: Minority Business Development Agency

MBDA Expands Economic Footprint of Minority Businesses—Strengthening the Economy

Guest blog post by Carmen West, MBDA Business Development Specialist

For over 45 years MBDA has been working aggressively to expand the economic footprint of minority business enterprises, also known as MBEs.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners, these MBE firms contributed $1 trillion in total economic output and employed nearly six million Americans. These findings highlight that the economic contribution of these firms has a significant impact on the national economy.

MBDA helps firms to realize their full economic potential through technical assistance, public and private contracting opportunities, advocacy, research and education, and by serving as a strategic partner for growth and development. MBDA is the only Federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of our nation's 5.8 million minority businesses.

Since 2009, MBDA has assisted clients in accessing nearly $26 billion in contracts and capital, while helping them create and retain more than 60,000 jobs.  The bulk of this work is accomplished through our nationwide network of MBDA Business Centers.  Each center provides businesses with services to assist them in accessing capital, contracts, and new markets, as well as helping them to grow in size and scale.

Access to Capital

In 2014 MBDA created a new access to capital team to introduce our clients to alternative capital sources.  This work has been two-fold:  to educate clients and firms about the types of alternative financing available and to advocate on their behalf with the kind of resource partners that minority owned firms lack access to: venture capitalists, angel investors, mergers and acquisitions firms, and internet based platforms. 

Increasing Exporting

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker recently issued a report showing that U.S. goods and services exports supported more than 11.7 million jobs in 2014 - a new record. The new data showed that exports strengthen our economy and create good jobs, paying up to 18 percent more than non-export related positions.  In partnership with Ex-Im Bank nine MBDA Business Centers became loan originators for Global Credit Express offering short-term working capital loans to small business exporters.  Our work with exporting initiatives like Look South and Doing Business in Africa, has resulted in an increase in client requests for assistance with exporting, which showcases another way MBEs are helping to strengthen the U.S. economy.

To learn more about how MBDA works with U.S. companies in creating economic growth and recovery, visit www.mbda.gov.

Spotlight on Commerce: Joann J. Hill, Chief, Office of Business Development, Minority Business Development Agency

Spotlight on Commerce: Joann J. Hill, Chief of Business Development for the Southeastern Region, Minority Business Development Agency

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to building a middle class economy in honor of Black History Month

Guest blog post by Joann J. Hill, Chief, Office of Business Development, Minority Business Development Agency

I am a native of Columbia, South Carolina and a graduate of Benedict College with a BS in Business Administration. I also received a Masters of Business Administration from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. After college, I began my career with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2000, I joined the MBDA Atlanta Regional Office and have been with the Department of Commerce for 14 years.  I began my career with MBDA as a Business Development Specialist and was eventually promoted to Chief of Business Development for the Southeastern Region. My next promotion relocated me to the MBDA National Headquarters in Washington, DC in 2012 where I currently serve as Chief of the Office of Business Development. In this capacity I oversee the Office of Business Development and serve as the lead federal program officer for the nationwide network of MBDA’s 44 Business Centers.

I lead the effort within the agency to promote economic opportunities that expand the growth and competitiveness of minority business enterprises (MBEs) across America. I am responsible for the creation and implementation of strategies for business development in the areas of: access to capital, access to contracts; access to emerging domestic and international markets and global supply chains.  We also actively engage strategic stakeholders like national chambers of commerce and trade associations in collaboration on policy and programs. 

For three consecutive years, I have served as Conference Director for the National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference, the nation’s largest federally sponsored conference on minority business enterprise. This conference is held annually in Washington, D.C. and attracts over 1,000 attendees. Traditionally, we have hosted officials from the White House, including the Vice President of the United States, the Secretary of Commerce, Cabinet Secretaries and a host of CEOs from MBEs and Fortune 500 firms.

My role at the Department of Commerce has a direct impact on improving the U.S. economy and expanding opportunities for all Americans. Through MBDA’s programs and initiatives, more than $6 billion in access to contracts, capital and export transactions have been generated over the past year - resulting in 30,000 jobs created and retained. This economic infusion contributes to the expansion of the middle class and growth of the American economy.  

My personal leadership philosophy and core guiding principles are:  vision, courage, teamwork, and a commitment to excellence; accountability, clear mission, faith and a relentless work ethic rooted in integrity.

Northern California MBDA Business Centers Help Minority Entrepreneurs Enter Technology Transfer, Innovation Market

The San Francisco Minority Business Development Center signs partnership agreement with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in August, 2014.

Guest blog post by the San Francisco MBDA Business Center 

Led by National Director Alejandra Castillo, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) has been collaborating with the San Francisco MBDA Business Center (SFMBC), operated by ASIAN, Inc., to advance a groundbreaking technology transfer and innovation agenda.   

The SFMBC, along with its sister San Jose and Fresno MBDA Business Centers, serve the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, which is universally recognized as one of the world’s leading regions for technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Minority business entrepreneurs (MBEs) in this region are not short of innovative ideas and are all too eager to gain access to cutting-edge technologies from national laboratories and universities, especially in life sciences, IT, and clean technology sectors. We’re working diligently to get those MBEs into these emerging markets. 

In September 2014, the SFMBC began piloting MBDA’s strategic Technology Transfer and Innovation Program. Closely working with Director Castillo, we designed our pilot model to engage regional MBEs with technology transfer and innovation concepts in an effort to connect them with U.S. and international investors, including angel investors and venture capital firms, and conventional funding, as well as to assist them with developing strategic commercialization channels. 

To increase awareness among local and regional MBEs and partners we jointly launched the initiative with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)Keiretsu Forum, and other professional service partners in October 2014 at our regional 2014 Minority Enterprise Development Week conference in San Jose. 

At the invitation of Director Castillo, the San Francisco team also brought in its partners and presented the pilot model to national-level MBE audiences at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s "Innovations in STEM: National Priorities and NIST" Symposium in November 2014. 

As members of the Keiretsu Forum, the San Francisco and San Jose MBDA Business Center team actively participated in the Forum’s Angel Capital Expo that same month, connecting with regional MBEs and over 500 angel investors worldwide. In January 2015, the team was invited to the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, a gateway to connecting foreign investors with investment opportunities in cutting-edge U.S. technologies in life sciences. 

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.