- Table of Contents
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- Emerging Metropolitan Sectors: A Fertile Market for U.S. Exports
- Bringing U.S. Products to the World
- Opportunities in the Global Marketplace for Minority Businesses
- Short Takes
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Opportunities in the Global Marketplace for Minority Businesses
Speaking to attendees at this year’s Minority Enterprise Development Week in Washington, D.C., on August 25, 2010, Francisco Sánchez, under secretary for international trade, emphasizes that minority entrepreneurs must be a part the new global economy. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)
With the recent push to prominence of export promotion activities under the National Export Initiative, business owners attending this year’s Minority Enterprise Development Week in Washington, D.C., were urged to look at expanding sales of their goods and services worldwide.
by John Ward
Although minority-owned businesses in the United States have historically faced obstacles to their survival and growth, they are now significant contributors to the U.S. economy. In 2007, they accounted for $1 trillion in gross receipts and supported almost 6 million jobs. And although these firms are generally smaller and have a lower payroll than other businesses, they are twice as likely to generate sales through exports compared to non-minority firms.
Because of this economic reality and the need to encourage growth in this vital sector on a global scale, the theme of the 2010 Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week was “strategies for growth and competitiveness in the global economy.”
MED Week, which is an annual event organized by the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), was held August 23–27, 2010, in Washington, D.C. It featured sessions led by senior officials from the government agencies concerned with exporting. In addition to the International Trade Administration (ITA), these included the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
For More Information
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a unit of the Department of Commerce, is a federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in the United States. It has a network of more than 40 business development centers located throughout the country. For more information, visit MBDA’s Web site at www.mbda.gov. Information about export assistance programs throughout the federal government can be found on the Web at the U.S. government’s export portal at www.export.gov. Business counseling over the telephone is available from the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723).
Capitalizing on the Global Market
In remarks to conference attendees on August 27, Gary Locke, secretary of commerce, emphasized the renewed vigor being given to export promotion with the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI). “Minority businesses already export twice as much as the average business, as they often have existing cultural, family, or business ties to foreign countries. We want to build on that.”
Locke cited the success of CleNET, a minority-owned business based in Oakbrook, Illinois, in breaking into global markets. “CIeNET is a leading technical service provider in the area of globally sourced consulting, software development, testing, and systems integration. [It] has positioned itself as a premier global delivery partner that works with Fortune 1,000 companies across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.”
In a keynote address on August 25, Francisco Sánchez, under secretary for international trade, underlined the importance of understanding the role of the United States in a global economy. “Americans of any cultural background more and more understand that the changing nature of the country’s economy dictates that we unleash the entrepreneurial spirit present in all of the sectors of our society,” said Sánchez. “The American economy itself is a subsector of a global economy that is creating a new global marketplace. Our job, then, is twofold: to make sure that America capitalizes on the new global market and that our minority communities are part of the new economy.”
Sánchez noted that, under the terms of a recently signed memorandum of understanding between ITA and MBDA, the two agencies would be partnering in future efforts to promote exporting by minority-owned firms.
U.S. Government a “Vigorous Partner”
Under the impetus of the NEI, the federal government is already expanding its efforts to increase exports, including educating U.S. companies about opportunities overseas by directly connecting them with new customers and by advocating more effectively for U.S. business interests in competitions for foreign-government contracts. Minority-owned firms are an important target of those efforts.
Joe Hurd, senior director for trade policy and export promotion at ITA and another speaker at the conference, summed up the significance of the export promotion efforts by noting that “with the National Export Initiative, American businesses that want to export—especially small and medium-sized enterprises—have a more vigorous partner in the U.S. government. [The NEI] marks the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his cabinet.”
John Ward is a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.
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