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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Highlights Importance of Minority-Owned Businesses to Regional Economic Growth and Restoration in the Gulf Coast
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Director Alejandra Y. Castillo hosted a roundtable with local minority business leaders in New Orleans to discuss the tremendous growth of minority-owned businesses and their impact on the local and national economy. The roundtable also addressed the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the Gulf Coast as the region continues to rebuild from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Last month, the Commerce Department shared the final results of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO), which found that our nation’s 8 million minority-owned firms are now the fastest-growing segment of our country’s business community, and contribute more than $ 1.4 trillion to our economy. In Louisiana, the 126,000 minority firms contribute more than $12 billion to the U.S. economy.
During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker and Director Castillo heard directly from local minority business leaders about the challenges they face and how the MBDA can help firms compete, succeed, and grow. Some of the business leaders discussed the need to help new minority firms become sustainable once they initially get off the ground. Issues including access to capital, capacity building, and the opportunities presented by technology were also discussed.
“As the only federal agency focused on strengthening the economic contribution of our nation’s minority-owned businesses, MBDA works each day to ensure that minority-owned businesses grow in size and scale through our 44 business centers across the nation,” said Director Castillo. “Minority businesses are a key part of the recovery and restoration in the Gulf Coast, and the New Orleans MBDA Center has greatly impacted local businesses and workers by opening doors for contracts and procurements, facilitating financial transactions, and helping create new jobs.”
In addition to impacting the national economy, local minority business leaders are also a critical component of ensuring the Gulf Coast comes back stronger and more vibrant than ever before. Chaired by Secretary Pritzker, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council voted last month to adopt the final rule, which allocates funding between the five Gulf Coast States through the Spill Impact Component of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act). These funds will support investments in actions and projects to ensure the long-term environmental health and economic prosperity of the Gulf Coast region. The RESTORE Act provides greater opportunity for minority businesses in Louisiana to aid in the repair of the ecosystem and build a stronger economy.