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Strategic Partnerships and New Markets


  • Submitted on 18 October 2011

    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.

    American AgricultureTo 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.

  • Submitted on 17 October 2011

    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?"

  • Submitted on 15 September 2011

    Brazil ITA Tour with Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale“It’s Brazil’s Time!”  I still can hear the clarion call of Rick Fedrizzi, President of the U.S. Green Building Council, from his opening speech during the Green Building Conference Brasil in São Paulo last week.  I was in Brazil to foster expanded commercial ties between Brazilian and American firms in the green building and energy sectors and advance the objectives of the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue.  For a portion of the trip, I accompanied 14 companies participating in the Department of Commerce-certified, Brazil-U.S. Business Council-organized Trade Mission. These are innovative and forward-thinking small and medium companies interested and ready to export green building products to Brazil.

    Fedrizzi also pointed out that Brazil was among the top five countries for LEED certifications, so there is definitely a market opportunity for these companies. It also helps that financing is available for construction of buildings designed to LEED specifications.  Brazil is rushing to get ready for the 2012 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

    The president’s trip to Brazil earlier this year laid the groundwork for wider U.S. participation in Brazil’s rapidly growing green energy sector.  I was excited to be able to participate with the companies as they are primed to take advantage of these incredible opportunities in the Brazilian market, especially the green building sector. This is a priority area for the President’s National Export Initiative, not only because it can generate new sales for American industry but also because it is a powerful way to grow green jobs in the United States. U.S. goods exports to Brazil in 2010 were $35.4 billion, up 36 percent from 2009. In 2010, Brazil was the eighth-largest export market for U.S. goods.

  • Submitted on 13 June 2011

    Top Five Export LocationsYou don’t need a boat to go where most small businesses export. China’s economy may get a lot of our press, but our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, get a lot more of our exports. Total U.S. exports of goods to Canada and Mexico in 2009 were $154.8 billion and $116.4 billion, respectively, while exports to China were $65.6 billion.

    The International Trade Administration’s recently released Small & Medium-Sized Exporting Companies: Statistical Overview, 2009 finds 275,843 exporters in 2009. Of this number, 269,269 or 97.6 percent were small businesses. But small businesses only accounted for 32.8 percent or $308 billion of the total export revenue in 2009.

    For both small and large exporters, most of the exports came from the manufacturing and wholesale trade industries, which is not surprising considering the data does not cover services exports. These two industries combined represented about 85 percent of exporting value and 60 percent of the exporting businesses.

  • Submitted on 01 June 2011

    Business HandshakeFord Motor Company announced recently that it had exceeded its supplier diversity sourcing goal, purchasing $4.1 billion in goods and services from minority-and women-owned companies.

    The success of Ford’s supplier diversity efforts illustrates how valuable minority-owned business enterprises are to our country’s top companies and our economy overall. From heavy equipment to financial services, no matter what the demands of your supply chain are, there’s a minority-owned firm that can fulfill them.   In fact, the number of high-quality minority-owned businesses spread across every sector of the economy totals 5.8 million.

    To better assist corporate America in locating minority business enterprises with scale and capacity, supplier diversity executives should put the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, on speed dial.  MBDA can help you find these firms and put you in contact with them so you can establish the kinds of profitable partnerships that more and more Fortune 500 companies are seeking out. In 2010, with the help of the MBDA network of business centers, MBDA helped the private sector secure more than $850 million in products and services from minority firms. 

  • Submitted on 27 April 2011

    A new video series launched today by the U.S. Small Business Administration and ADP® offers insight into the story behind the story of six successful American companies.  Featuring the individuals who built their businesses from an idea to become industry leaders, the “America’s Best” series shares keys to success, best practices and lessons learned for today’s entrepreneurs.

    “With this series, SBA and our partner ADP offer current and potential entrepreneurs a chance to hear from the people who built their big ideas into some of America’s most successful companies,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.  “These six people share their personal perspectives and insights into the challenges they faced, along with their failures and successes, while also offering an inspirational look at the resiliency behind America’s spirit of entrepreneurship.”

    The “America’s Best” video series is available online at www.sba.gov/AmericasBest and on www.ADP.com.  The series was produced in partnership between SBA and ADP, a provider of human resource outsourcing, payroll services and benefits administration. 

  • Submitted on 29 March 2011

    National Director David Hinson

    In honor of Women’s History Month and in recognition of the new statistics on firms owned by American Indians and Alaskan Natives, this edition of MBDA’s newsletter features an inspiring storing about Sister Sky—a firm owned and operated by two sisters from the Spokane tribe in Eastern Washington.  As I travel around the country, I am in awe of the innovation, tenacity, and the indomitable spirit of minority business owners and their unwillingness to quit in the face of overwhelming odds. That’s the spirit that makes America great.

    With the release the 2007 Survey of Business Owners data by the Census Bureau and MBDA’s American Indian and Alaskan Native Business Fact Sheet, we have evidence that there was growth in the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native-owned firms since 2002.  Yet, job creation by these firms has not materialized and the average gross receipts of American Indian and Alaskan Native-owned firms ($145,000) are significantly below average compared to non-minority firms ($490,000). 

    Still, of the 237,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native-owned firms that generate more than $34.0 billion in gross receipts, there are more than 4,600 that produce $1.0 million dollars or more in revenue.  These firms combined generated gross receipts of $23 billion and employed 116,759 workers.  Clearly, there is an upside to building your firm to size, scale and capacity.  Sister Sky, along with their commitment to creating jobs on the Spokane reservation, and with the support of MBDA and other federal partners, is headed in the right direction.

  • Submitted on 09 July 2010

    A strategic partnership can make a lot of sense, but only after all parties agree on some basic rules and protocols

    Small companies, squeezed by the pressures of internal growth and the economic uncertainties of mergers and acquisitions, are increasingly turning to strategic alliances for competitive advantage. The problem, however, is that the majority of business alliances fail. In fact, Vantage Partners, a Boston-based consultancy, has done research showing that 60% of alliances fail midway through their expected lifetimes.

    Establish an "executive sponsor" in both your organization and your partner's. If the alliance concept is just the idea of a visionary manager, it will become dependent on the personality of a single champion. Identifying an executive sponsor of the alliance emphasizes that the alliance resulted from a collaboration that will keep it going. Executive sponsors must be kept informed of alliance activities (good and bad) and pulled into the discussion only when needed to show priority for the alliance relationship, or to emphasize corporate commitment and resource allocation.
     

Did you know...

Between 2002 and 2007, minority-owned firms outpaced the growth of non-minority firms in gross receipts, employment, and number of firms. Minority firms are an engine of job creation.
Graph for MBE Growth

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