|Created on August 29, 2012|
Representing minority-owned businesses nationwide, Alejandra Castillo, is blazing a path through California’s bay area to ensure that MBDA clients will have a fair shot at the many contracting opportunities surrounding the construction of the California high-speed rail system. Ms. Castillo arrived in San Francisco yesterday to begin a series of meetings with the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). The high speed rail will link Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than 2 hours and 40 minutes, traveling at speeds approaching 220 miles per hour.
The $68 billion project has the potential to create 100,000 jobs for each year that construction is underway and another 450,000 permanent new jobs statewide over the next 25 years. High-speed rail means tens of thousands of good, family-supporting jobs for California — jobs not just to build the trains and the train line, but also jobs to operate and maintain it. And there’s more — hundreds more jobs will be created for suppliers, restaurants and other businesses along the route.
Just last week, California High Speed Rail Authority CEO, Jeff Morales, signed a Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Policy, formalizing a 30 percent small business participation goal. “MBDA is very excited about this project and its prospects of putting Americans back to work. We are collaborating with our partners to ensure that 30% of the project will be completed by minority-owned firms,” said Alejandra Castillo, National Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency.
MBDA National Director Hinson Builds Relationships with Brazil In Line with Obama Administration NEI Goals
The trip provided an opportunity for Commerce’s MBDA to help push forward on the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative (NEI) by fostering greater access to emerging markets in Brazil for minority business enterprises. Helping the administration achieve its NEI goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 is a top priority for MBDA, because more exports mean more jobs. Through the NEI, MBDA is thinking strategically about the sectors and markets that give America’s minority businesses a comparative advantage globally. Brazil is one of those key markets.
Director Hinson addressed a special business roundtable held in conjunction with the two-day technical meeting of the U.S. - Brazil Joint Action Plan in Brasilia, Brazil. Hinson provided an overview of the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) long history of helping minority-owned businesses become more competitive through greater access to contracts, capital, and markets.
The discussion included over 50 Afro-Brazilian businesses, public officials, and representatives from trade groups. The purpose of the roundtable was to engage segments of the Brazilian population, who have been historically excluded from the types of sustainable economic development that promotes growth and financial security.
On day three of National Director David Hinson’s five-day U.S. interagency trip to Brazil, he met with a group of prominent Afro-Brazilian entrepreneurs from Bahia, which has one of the largest Afro-Brazilian populations in the country. Dialogue between Hinson and Afro-Brazilian business owners centered on the many challenges they face. In addition to their biggest obstacle—the ability to obtain the capital financing required for their businesses to grow—they discussed a number of industries that offer the most promise for them, citing automobiles, tourism, construction, cosmetics, and mining.
One member of this group was Ms. Ana Matos, who managed to build a successful cosmetics manufacturing plant in Salvador, one of the nine municipalities in the northern region. In spite of the many obstacles and challenges common to Afro-Brazilians, Ms. Matos’s company, GenteBonita, is worth $3 million.
David Hinson is National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency. He is currently in Brazil as a member of a Federal interagency delegation on the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial Inequality.
I am sitting with Luciana Mello, an Afro-Brazilian entrepreneur whose consulting company, Prama Consulting, assists small and medium-sized businesses export from Brazil. One of her main lines of business is language translation services. As businesses continue to move to a global economy, there is a growing need for translation services.
Most of Mello’s clients are Afro-Brazilian companies that export primarily within Latin America. When asked about exporting to the U.S., Luciana said “Most of my clients don't consider exporting to the United States because they feel that the market is too difficult to enter and too large, but if they could find a U.S. partner, they would be interested.”