As we embark on a new fiscal year, I’d like to begin by thanking all of you who helped make our Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference such a huge success. We had over 800 people in attendance learning about the best strategies to pursue government contracting opportunities, take advantage of new industries, and cultivate strategic partnerships to grow. Please visit the MED Week website to view the photos and remarks from some of our most notable speakers like HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebilius, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Management Dan Tangherlini and others.
MBDA was busy building relationships as well. We signed three distinct Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) designed to foster minority business growth and development with Tremco, Inc., IBM, and the Republic of Turkey’s Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program provided a record $2.59 billion in fiscal year 2011 to small businesses, a 63 percent increase over last year’s $1.59 billion.
“Over the past two years, we’ve made SBIC work better than ever before,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “We cut licensing time in half, which has strengthened efficiency and made it possible to get capital into the hands of small businesses more quickly. When an SBIC invests in a company, it can scale up and create jobs.”
The face of America – and of American agriculture – is changing. The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of USDA’s most recent Census of Agriculture. The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of minority-owned businesses grew more than 45 percent between 2002 and 2007.
To reflect the diversity of our agricultural sector and business community, USDA is stepping up its efforts to continually supplement its seven Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees (ATACs) with new members, especially those who represent minorities, women, or persons with disabilities. We believe that people with different backgrounds and views will make the work of these committees, and thus of USDA, more effective.
Applicants should represent a U.S. entity with an interest in agricultural trade and have expertise and knowledge of agricultural trade as it relates to policy and commodity-specific issues. For example, Robert Anderson of Sustainable Strategies LLC has served at different points in time on both the Fruits and Vegetables ATAC and the Processed Foods ATAC. Of his experience, Anderson said, “I had the opportunity to meet directly with the highest levels of international trade leadership in the United States and globally. Most importantly, the U.S. government actually seeks our input, listens, and responds to the needs and expectations of the U.S. agricultural industry.”
At a time when our economy is trying to rebound from a serious recession, having a voice on one of these committees can make a significant impact on the government decisions that affect our economic future. That’s because agricultural trade plays an extremely important role in the health of our nation’s economy. U.S. agricultural exports have consistently contributed to the positive U.S. trade balance, creating jobs and boosting economic growth. In fiscal 2011, U.S. agricultural exports were forecast to reach a record $137 billion, which supported more than one million jobs in America this year.
President Obama sent three trade agreements to Congress for approval. While each of the trade agreements were negotiated differently, they all share one common goal - to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets. Each supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
All Trade Promotion Agreements have one thing in common. They reduce barriers to U.S. exports, and protect U.S. interests and enhance the rule of law in the partner country. The reduction of trade barriers and the creation of a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment make it easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export their products and services to trading partner markets.This results in jobs here in America.
The most common question about these agreements is, "What exactly is in them?"
SBA-Proposed Size Standard Increases for Information and Administrative Services Industries Reflect Marketplace Changes
Proposed rules published today for comment in The Federal Register by the U.S. Small Business Administration would adjust the size definition of small businesses in 52 industries in two broad categories of businesses, ranging from travel agencies and movie production to waste management.
The proposed adjustments to size standards in 15 industries in Sector 51 of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), “Information,” and in 37 industries in Sector 56, “Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services,” reflect changes in marketplace conditions in those sectors.