|Created on March 28, 2013|
Two critical segments of our nation’s economy were brought to center stage this month, the Native American and Alaska Native and women-owned business communities. I had the privilege of speaking at the 27th Annual National Reservation Economic Summit (RES) hosted by The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Each year, The National Center brings tribal leaders together with numerous industry leaders, CEOs, as well as state and local elected officials, for discussions on how to strengthen the Native American and Alaska Native business community.
On the first day of the conference, I moderated the Tribal Business Leaders Forum, which brought together executives of Tribal Enterprises, Alaska Native Corporations and members of the United States Congress. The Forum provided business leaders with the opportunity to communicate their accomplishments and obstacles related to economic development. It also provided a platform to inspire the business enterprises to collaborate and work with each other to build tribal economic alliances and broaden the scope of domestic and global economic opportunity for Indian Country.
Since 2009, MBDA has assisted 2,850 Native American owned-businesses in obtaining $1.4 billion in contracts and capital. In Fiscal Year 2012 alone, MBDA helped Native American-owned businesses gain access to $321 million in contracts and capital—a 9% increase over Fiscal Year 2011 levels. It is the mission of this Agency to help these firms grow; and through strategic investments in the MBDA Business Center program we are moving in that direction. The September 2012 $6.6 million investment in states with large Native American and Alaska Native populations will spur job creation and economic development.
While at RES, I also had the opportunity to speak to Native American entrepreneurs about the growing importance of the global marketplace and seizing opportunities to export goods and services. MBDA continues to help all minority-owned firms access opportunities abroad to create jobs at home. In particular, our Global Business Center in San Antonio is primarily focused on opening the doors to global opportunities, and I encourage businesses to engage them as part of a global growth strategy.
March is also National Women’s History Month, and I’d like to commend the work of scores of minority women entrepreneurs throughout the United States. According to a study conducted by the Center for Women Business Research, firms owned by women of color are growing nearly five times as fast as all U.S. firms and account for 40% of all minority-owned businesses. The study also found that the firms employ 1.6 million Americans and contribute $230 billion to the national economy. This is no small accomplishment, and MBDA salutes women throughout history who have paved the way for the many women entrepreneurs today.