Monica Simeon and Marina Turning-Robe have accomplished what many have said is impossible – working together as sisters in constant contact and still remaining best friends.
“There is great comfort in working with a business partner that you can be brutally honest with and not jeopardize the relationship. In reality that type of relationship is very advantageous to the business,” Monica said. “We balance each other out with our individual strengths and we collaborate very well and those two elements are extremely critical to our company’s success.”
The siblings are members of the Spokane tribe, located in rural Eastern Washington, where unemployment is hovering around 50 percent. While there is very little private sector development in the area, Sister Sky is one of the few small businesses on the reservation and it is committed to creating jobs and economic diversification beyond casinos.
Staying true to their mission of giving back, the small company uses tribal youth as employees in the summer.
“Wealth building in our tribal communities through entrepreneurship is critical if we are going to improve our conditions and solve our own problems,” Marina said.
A strong competitive drive is what keeps Andre Gist thinking about how to parlay his success with Manufacturers Industrial Group (MIG), LLC into new ventures. Gist has the largest minority-owned business in the state of Tennessee. Today, he is considering how to diversify his $300 million business while branching out into foreign markets.
His daily routine includes monitoring opportunities emailed through MBDA’s Phoenix Opportunity System. “I signed up a few years ago, and I have gotten involved again. Since then, I go through the opportunities on a regular basis,” Gist said.
With MBDA’s help, he is also hoping to participate in one of the upcoming U.S. Department of Commerce trade missions. While he has 1,400 employees and six locations in Tennessee – three in Lexington, two in Athens, and one in Chattanooga – he is exploring the possibility of opening a facility in Mexico.
MIG is a contract manufacturer of welded assemblies and fabricated metals for the automotive and construction industry. The company specializes in automated welding processes, assembly and fabrication.
As the only Federal agency with the sole task of promoting the growth and global competitiveness of the minority business community, MBDA takes great pride in its mission. With 46 centers nationwide, MBDA has a direct impact on businesses throughout the country, with a particular focus on those that are poised to expand.
Over the past 40 years, MBDA has helped thousands of minority-owned businesses grow and has increased contracting and capital access opportunities for MBEs by more than fifteen percent from a year ago. MBDA also has helped to create nearly 6,000 new jobs while saving thousands of existing jobs.
MBDA Director David A. Hinson is challenging MBDA centers and clients to think outside of the norm in order to expand businesses and create new jobs. Hinson stated, “I deeply believe in these principals. Today, we have a window of opportunity to change the world. We can create an entire generation of $100 million and larger minority-owned businesses across industries.”
Pablo Del Valle has made it his personal mission to improve the lives of Puerto Ricans through constructing quality projects. Founded in 1988, the Del Valle Group, is a recognized leader in road construction, pavement rehabilitation, bridge construction, marine structures, and buildings and site development.
The Del Valle Group currently has 350 employees and completed more than 197 projects to date. The company’s net worth is more than $878.6 million.
Pablo’s hard work as company president has not gone unnoticed. He has attracted numerous accolades, including selection as the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) 2010 National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Minority Construction Firm of the Year.
Viola Victoria Linko worked her way up from cleaning offices to CEO in the male-dominated world of steel manufacturing. Better known as Vicky, she and her husband and three children are keeping the legacy alive at the 85-year-old company located in Chicago Heights, Illinois.
After marrying into a family of steel manufacturers, it was only a matter of time before Vicky climbed the corporate ladder to become a dominant figure in the industry. While the oil and rail industries weren’t always readily welcoming to her, she says persistence is her secret weapon. “Offering a good product and perseverance are the keys,” said Vicky, who is president and CEO. “It’s difficult being the woman out front in two of the hardest markets, oil and rail.”
Formerly Funk Forging Company, the operation underwent a name change to Funk Linko, Inc. in 2004 to highlight the family name that has been operating the company since 1925. Vicky has been leading the company for more than 28 years, after marrying into the family in 1967. Funk Linko is a certified, minority- and woman-owned business.
Minority firms partner to win a highly competitive $59 million Department of Commerce grant to provide broadband communication service to a substantial portion of the rural, eight-county region in central Alabama.
A team of African-American owned telecommunication businesses in Atlanta pulled together to win a contract that will not only create jobs, but expand access to services to communities through broadband connections.
The team made up of primary partners Trillion Communications Corporation, A2D, Inc. and A-Plus Community Solutions competed for the opportunity to increase broadband in unserved and underserved communities.