Remarks by MBDA National Deputy Director Albert K. Shen at San Antonio MED Week Consortium

October 23, 2014

National Deputy Director Albert K. ShenGood afternoon and welcome to Minority Enterprise Development Week San Antonio.  I bring you greetings from U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, our National Director, Alejandra Castillo and the entire Washington, DC MBDA family.

It’s a pleasure to be with you today to see all that is unfolding here in San Antonio.  From the looks of it – it seems that San Antonio’s minority business community is, as Secretary Pritzker would say: “open for business.” Certainly the morning’s workshops and networking opportunities and all that will unfold after lunch will support and strengthen your pursuit of opportunity and strategic partnership.

In his Presidential Proclamation celebrating this year’s Minority Enterprise Development Week, President Obama said, “America's great strength lies in our diversity -- of people, perspectives, and ideas.  We cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  But if we invest in small businesses and give all our entrepreneurs a chance to compete, new opportunities will open, and we will flourish -- as individuals and as a nation.”

Part of our investment is also in our good health – the Affordable Care Act makes that possible and this is my plug that open enrollment is upon us and we should all do that is necessary to see that our families and employees enroll.

President Obama is right about our strength being in our diversity.  Strategic investments in the business community particularly the minority business community grow our economy and create American jobs.  The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is dedicated to helping businesses in this community and across the country leverage the strength of their diversity and build their capacity to capitalize on domestic and global opportunities.

As we celebrate 45 years as the nation’s only agency solely dedicated to minority business development, we remain deeply committed to the three pillars of our work: access to capital, access to contracts and access to markets.  Over the years we have streamlined our operation, creating a national network of Minority Business Centers that engage, educate and support the work of minority businesses.  This new business model allowed us to strategically focus on the needs of our clients. In so doing, we were able to develop specific areas of specialization. Here in San Antonio, the MBDA Business Center received funding to focus exclusively on global market access and the first Global Pathways Center was established. The San Antonio team, led by Project Director Orestes Hubbard, is uniquely qualified to support the international trade interests and contract pursuits of MBDA clients from across the country.

Here’s why.  95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States.  And here’s what we know about minority businesses:

Minority businesses have the most favorable export attributes of any sector of the U.S. economy and represent the future of export growth.

  • They are twice as likely to export products and services because of cultural and linguistic ties.

  • Six times more likely to transact business in a language other than English

  • Three times more likely to generate 100% of their revenue from exporting

  • And they already substantially contribute to exports in manufacturing, retail trade, technology and educational services

These attributes strategically position minority businesses within the global economy. Thus, the work of the Global Pathways Center is vital - focusing primarily on global opportunities in Latin America and we are already seeing great progress. The San Antonio MBDA Business Center has taken several Trade Missions to Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Mexico.  MBDA staff have developed a strong network in Mexico to identify potential opportunities for export-ready MBE’s. In Colombia, MBDA San Antonio staff is currently pursuing opportunities in the manufacturing and energy sectors and have visited with trade associations of after-market auto parts and other business associations.

Our national office and the San Antonio MBDA Business Center are currently negotiating a strategic collaboration with ProMexico to reach out to supply chain businesses to explore contracting opportunities and potential investments related to the construction of the new airport in Mexico City which will cost 9.1 billion USD and will erect a 6 million square foot terminal on 11,400 acres.   
We are excited about these new developments and their implications for the minority business community.  The wind of economic change is blowing across our nation.  We must look to diverse markets and the global marketplace for expansion and partnership.  Minority businesses are on the cusp of great opportunity and some of the most exciting progress is happening right here in San Antonio.

Our nation is strongest when we embrace all of our talents – the diversity of our business community is an untapped strength poised to deliver huge dividends for America.

Today, we celebrate and recognize the exemplary achievements of minority-owned businesses as well as lifelong advocates of the minority business community - those leaders in various quadrants of the business community that already know that betting on minority business is a sure thing – creating jobs, securing families and bolstering communities.  Today we salute your efforts during MED Week 2014 and look forward to a future that we know will be bright.

Thank you.