In support of the President’s call to increase collaboration among federal agencies and with private and public sector entities, there has been an abundance of interagency initiatives geared to increase job creation and entrepreneurship. Among these, MBDA has partnered with other federal agencies in support of the Job and Innovation Accelerator , Strong Cities, Strong Communities  and Start-Up America .
As a federal partner, MBDA is providing technical support to grantees of the Job Accelerator to identify and match minority businesses with potential procurement opportunities resulting from the 20 regional innovation clusters. Moreover, we are excited that three MBDA Business Center operators won grants to implement the Job Accelerator projects. MBDA also has boots on the ground in New Orleans and Fresno, California to support economic development, business formation and expansion in those cities as part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities  initiative. In addition, MBDA continues to participate in the Start-Up America  initiative to support business formation and innovation.
As many of you may know, last year the President signed into law The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank Act , to promote the financial stability of America and to protect consumers from abusive financial service practices, among other purposes. In particular, the law brought many changes to increase transparency and accountability in the financial industry, strengthen consumer protection against unfair lending practices, and to promote greater inclusion of minorities and women in the employment and procurement of federal financial regulatory agencies. The law established the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among other federal financial regulatory agencies.
MBDA has been working with the new Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at these financial regulatory agencies to support our common mission of increasing minority-owned business participation in their federal procurement activities as well as in other agency programs. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  is currently seeking qualified applicants to apply for the opportunity to direct their Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. I would like to encourage you to spread the word and apply for this opportunity which closes on December 6, 2011.
Another key aspect of the Dodd-Frank Act is the regulatory change to the collection of data on business loans. Capital access remains one of the critical challenges to growing minority businesses. The new law amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to require financial institutions to implement a data collection and reporting scheme similar to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The change enables financial institutions to gather data from minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses who apply for business loans. This regulatory change would assist federal regulatory agencies in keeping track of compliance with fair lending practices, among other laws. It would also assist MBDA and minority business stakeholders in identifying challenges and finding solutions to increasing capital access by minority business enterprises.
Another opportunity I would also like to encourage you to consider is to serve as a member of one of seven Trade Advisory Committees  housed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Department is currently seeking additional applicants who may want to serve on any of its seven committees and are particularly interested in increasing their minority business representation. If you represent an entity with interest in agricultural trade, consider applying for this opportunity.
As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month during the month of November, I would like to pay special tribute to the more than 237,000 Native American-owned firms and tribal entities who are contributing to our nation’s strong and diverse economy. Native American-owned firms are employing thousands of Americans across the country and lifting our nation’s competitiveness edge in domestic and global markets.
We are excited to continue to work with all of our partners and stakeholders in support of minority business entrepreneurship. We also wish you a happy Thanksgivings holiday in the company of your loved ones.