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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at Minority Enterprise Development Week Awards Ceremony


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Monday, December 3, 2013

Remarks at Minority Enterprise Development Week Awards Ceremony
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

Thank you, Director Hinson.  Welcome to Washington and to the Commerce Department.  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. When I became Commerce Secretary, I hung a sign on my office door just across the hall. It says “Open for Business.” 

The facts are clear.  We have momentum.

  • Our GDP has grown for 10 straight quarters.  

  • Exports are up.  

  • The deficit has been cut in half.  

  • The housing market is coming back.  

  • And over the past 44 months, businesses like yours have helped create 7.8 million jobs.

In the 21st century, we know that minority-owned firms are growing at a fast pace. For the most recent data we have available, minority-owned businesses generate $1 trillion in revenues and employ 6 million Americans. Make no mistake.  We still have work to do to lift incomes… and to ensure that everyone who wants a job has a job. But we have come a long way – in no small part due to the work of MBDA.

Last year, MBDA helped minority-owned firms obtain over $3.6 billion in contracts and capital. That translates to helping create or retain over 16,000 jobs, the highest level in the agency’s 44-year history. And I know that MBDA is going to take even bigger strides, as we move forward with the Commerce Department’s new Open for Business Agenda.

For example, MBDA is going to make sure that more minority-owned firms can grow through exporting – following in the footsteps of companies like Instant Data Technologies in Texas, our Minority Export Firm of the Year.

As you may know, the President’s National Export Initiative has broken records.  Last year we hit $2.2 trillion in exports, up $600 billion since 2009. But the fact remains that we are still a nation that underexports. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of our borders – that needs to change.

As the Chief Commercial Advocate for the United States, I am going to step up and push for new agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. And, here at home, the Commerce Department is going to launch NEI 2.0 to help exporting become part of the DNA of business communities across the country.

We are going to spread the word about new free trade agreements in places like Colombia and South Korea… as well as opportunities to do business in fast-growing regions like Sub-Saharan Africa. We want to build on the fact that minority-owned businesses are already more likely to export, to have international operations, and to do business in languages other than just English.

We will need the help of leaders like you to create this culture of exporting. Overall, my commitment is that – with ALL of our efforts here at Commerce – we will reach out to businesses like yours more than ever before. Thank you in advance for your partnership as we work to create the conditions for more businesses to succeed… just like you have.

Congratulations to all of you – now let’s give out some awards!

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