Remarks by MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo at the Minorities in Energy Year One Anniversary Forum

as prepared for delivery


November 18, 2014

National Director Castillo

Good Morning. A special thanks to our Mistress of Ceremonies for that warm introduction.

I bring you greetings from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker who is always supportive of strategic gatherings like this one that support the Commerce Department’s commitment to the growth, diversification and transformation of American business. Within the larger commercial focus of the Department, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is specifically dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority- owned businesses. 

We are pleased to service some 5.8 million firms across this country, each contributing to the economic engine that is minority business enterprise. MBEs have created and retained more than 25,000 jobs and over $1 trillion dollars in combined gross receipts annually. Yet, there is still more we can do to grow in size and scale and build our capacity in new sectors like energy and its related industries.

This is a noteworthy moment for communities of color in this country as census data speaks to the growth in numbers and shifting demographic composition of our nation and its impact on every quadrant of our lives. We at MBDA are committed to presenting these demographic shifts as an opportunity – that’s what we’re here to talk about today right?– an opportunity for our country to leverage one of its strongest assets – especially in business but also in its global scientific standing – we must leverage the power of our diversity as a nation. If we intend to remain competitive, we must fully engage this underutilized source of jobs, revenue and innovation.  

MBDA shares the MIE commitment to access. We understand this to be the first step toward our ability to compete – simply having access - access to capital, contracts and markets. The energy industry is a $6 trillion dollar business and we share your desire to see more minorities engaging this industry.

Thomas Edison once said, “We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I am happy to see so many here who are anxious to learn more about the opportunities that the energy sector presents - those who are unafraid to work hard in the interest of growing their businesses and exploring new opportunities for strategic partnership and diversification.

The 21st century economic building blocks of our nation are expanding to include: innovative research, commercialization and more tech entrepreneurship – essential elements of energy related industries. Yet a large segment of Americans are either unaware or are somehow disconnected from these new economic building blocks. Conversations like the one taking place today, begin to build a bridge between us from isolation to engagement and exploration to expertise.

MBDA is pleased to be a part of what I know will be a fruitful dialogue that actually began with our own strategic partnership with the Office of Economic Impact & Diversity as we sought to support the minority businesses in the Gulf Coast area. We were pleased to co-host a meeting along with DOE in the city of Lake Charles to discuss impending investments in mega energy projects planned for southwest Louisiana.

We convened a group of stakeholders from local industries, government, community leaders and educational institutions to begin discussions around supplier diversity and all the opportunities that this investment would bring to the area. While many decisions were still in the planning stages, it gave all stakeholders an opportunity to hear about the planned work and to begin the process of preparation and positioning for when the project was at the point of implementation. 

The conversation allowed all concerned parties to begin to think through next steps. DOE and MBDA offered to work with the energy sector and related industries to develop a diversity supplier model and plan that includes the appropriate best practices for that region. MBDA looks forward to not only completing that work in Southwest Louisiana, but preparing MBEs throughout our national network of Business Centers for the opportunities that will emerge from our strategic partnership with DOE.

As it has been said in many arenas – we are better together – and MBDA looks forward to our continued work together.

Thank you