Annual Minority Business Development Agency Summit Opens Doors of Opportunities and Addresses Vital Issues

Above: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. He said small businesses drive a good part of the U.S. economy.

Above: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez speaking at a Congressional Dinner at the Minority Business Development Agency's summit in Washington, D.C. Report and interviews by Ibrahim Dabo. Photo Credit: Ibrahim Dabo and Christian Antalics.

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce held its second annual summit in Washington, D.C. between June 8 and June 9. The two-day event brought together minority entrepreneurs, thought leaders, practitioners and stakeholders.

Senator Menendez said minority businesses drive a good part of the U.S. economy

Senator Menendez said minority businesses drive a good part of the U.S. economy

The main goal of the conference was to “strengthen public policies and programs directed at fostering the growth and competitiveness of Minority Business Enterprises.”

Discussions held at the summit included:

  • the legal landscape confronting race-based business programs
  • revised regulations and policies associated with minority business programs
  • new programs and strategies for minority business growth
  • legislative activities of stakeholders and Congress

A congressional reception was held in a historic room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill to mark the closing of the summit. 

The summit answered vitals questions from attendees and opened doors of opportunities and collaboration

The summit answered vitals questions from attendees and opened doors of opportunities and collaboration

U.S. Senator for New Jersey, Robert Menendez, who serves on the Senate Committees on Finance; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; and Foreign Relations, spoke at the gathering on access to capital, in terms of capital formation to be able to grow and expand.

Menendez said it then moves on to how do we get our community represented in the corporate boards of America.

He said being on a corporate board, having senior executive management and making sure that there is significant procurement by Corporate America into our respective communities is critically important for growth and for those companies.

Then they come to understand that members of our communities sitting on the corporate boards and the senior executive management can help their bottom-line, Menendez said, adding that “while at the same time creating investments in our community because we know where the opportunities are to make an investment that will produce income.”

Menendez said minority businesses drive a good part of the nation’s economy, even in difficult times.

He said as someone who voted for the Stimulus Package, he is disappointed about the way federal contracts are awarded under the Recovery Act to minority businesses.

Menendez said 18% has been awarded to minority businesses “and frankly 18% is not enough.”

“Minority-owned firms are less likely to receive loans than non-minority-owned firms regardless of their size,” Menendez said.

Congresswoman Judy Chu is interested in collaborating with the MBDA to help businesses thrive.

Congresswoman Judy Chu is interested in collaborating with the MBDA to help businesses thrive.

Judy Chu, member of the United States Congress, 32nd District, California, commended the MBDA for its role in helping with recovery from the economic recession.

“I am particularly interested in [working with] the MBDA and making sure that we make the connections that are necessary so that our businesses will be able to thrive,” Chu said.

Giving a reflection of the summit, Daniel Fahey, president/CEO of DanSources Technical Services, Inc., told Ib’s Blog in an interview that, “there is going to be some associations and synergies in business; it was interesting meeting the senator and the congresswoman and hearing what they had to say.”

L-R: Tim Fahey, Daniel Fahey, & Ibrahim Dabo

L-R: Tim Fahey, Daniel Fahey, & Ibrahim Dabo

Fahey said he listened to the fact that there is a big interest in trying to do business with more small businesses instead of giving the work to large businesses that sometimes have high prices and kind of sluggish.

He said small businesses tend to be more flexible and in time to get work done because they have a little bit of pride.   

“One of the things I thought was interesting is that we went to the White House to find out more about what the administration is doing and they are very much on target on really supporting small business and minority-owned businesses here in D.C. and throughout the United States,” said Tim Fahey, president of Dirigo Agency.

Susan Eddington is working on a project for the State of Louisiana.

Susan Eddington (R) is working on a project for the State of Louisiana.

“They are very sharp, very organized people, and I think all you have to do is ask a few questions and they have everything lined up.”

Susan J. Eddington, president of IMAGES-IMAGES, Inc., said the summit was very successful and she was able to make some connections for an energy efficiency conservation initiative she is working on for the State of Louisiana.

Linda Brown (L) relocated to D.C. a year ago and started a new company

Linda Brown (L) relocated to D.C. a year ago and started a new company

“I wanted to get some knowledge base for what are some of the expectations from the different government agencies and what are some of the things they are looking for from minority businesses and also to network,” said Linda Brown, senior consultant, Brown Leadership Style Consulting.

“The last two days has been very informative,” Brown said, adding that the clientele of participants who sat on the panels shared information on who they are and what they are looking for as an agency for others to conduct business with them.

“Also what are some of the new programs that’s come about to be very inclusive and expansion of potential opportunities,” Brown said.

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About Ib Dabo

Ib Dabo, founder and executive editor of Ib Talk Online, is a writer, journalist, photographer, and communications and IT leader whose mission is to inspire and work with people to make a difference in our world. Visit his official website - www.IbDabo.com - to learn more. Follow @IbDabo on Twitter and also @IbTalkOnline on Twitter.