Remarks by Acting National Director Chris Garcia at the National 8(a) Small Business Conference

Good morning on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Agency, thank you for inviting us to be a part of this conference. It’s an honor to be here in Nashville with so many accomplished and diverse business professionals.  I feel right at home.  The National 8(a) Small Business Conference is truly the perfect setting to talk about the work we are doing at MBDA, and how that work could help your business. So thank you again to Ron Perry and everyone else at the National 8(a) Association for this opportunity. We look forward to cultivating this partnership and finding new ways to support this group and work more closely together.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Minority Business Development Agency, you’re probably not alone. Like our sister agencies, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Patent & Trademark Office, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we’re one of 12 unique bureaus within the U.S. Department of Commerce. And our mission is undeniably important. We are the only federal agency entirely dedicated to developing and growing minority-owned businesses in this country. One of the ways we do this is through our national network of business centers where we position minority-owned companies to perform in high-growth industries, emerging markets and corporate supply chains. MBDA helps secure an annual average of $5.4 billion worth of contracts and financial investments into minority-owned firms. Facilitating access to these contracts and investments helps increase the number of businesses with revenues that exceed $1M and in turn create jobs for Americans.

As you can see, this conference is an ideal place for us to share MBDA’s mission and resources, and an ideal place for us to help future, current and graduated 8(a) business owners grow your companies. For us, this is a wonderful networking and relationship building opportunity – and, quite frankly, a welcome respite from Washington.

I was looking forward to speaking to all of you today, but am even more excited now that I’ve arrived at the conference and seen firsthand how much it has grown over the past several years. You all inspire us to advocate for you on a daily basis, extolling the virtues of our agency and pointing to your triumphs as evidence of the work’s impact.

We want to support all 8(a) business owners, whether the firm is currently certified or is working toward that certification. We know that the 8(a) designation is a game-changer, and at MBDA we will do everything in our power to educate people on the process and be there to assist businesses in any way possible once they’ve been certified. We can connect your emerging business to a minority-owned peer that is a few years ahead and knows just how to navigate the terrain of growth, scalability and diversification.

But beyond propelling companies toward 8(a) distinction and aiding them once they’ve arrived, MBDA is keenly focused on the future of your businesses. What happens when 8(a) members outgrow the program, and the competition suddenly comes in the form of the largest corporations in America? How does a minority-owned business, an 8(a) alum, scale up over time? One of the key ingredients of certification is diversifying your portfolio, making sure that your firm’s growth doesn’t stop once your 8(a) designation expires.

MBDA is here to make sure that you’re equipped to take that next step before your business is out on that proverbial cliff, transitioning past 8(a) certification and into a challenging and ever-changing corporate America. We will make sure that your business is procurement-ready.

MBDA Federal Procurement Center services minority-owned firms with annual revenues of more than $1 million. It’s a first-of-its-kind center focused solely on federal contracting. Whether your firm needs capacity building, proposal assistance or market research, MBDA Federal Procurement Center is there to help.

Our ultimate goal at MBDA is to plug more minority business enterprises into the mainstream economy through access to contracts and capital. It’s a goal that is especially close to my heart, as a former minority business owner. I am an entrepreneur first and foremost. I started three businesses – two of which failed, so believe me when I tell you that I know how hard it is. But thankfully for me, the third time was the charm. Because of this I know first-hand that small business matters. For me, joining MBDA is a homecoming of sorts and an opportunity to help other minority enterprises overcome the challenges I faced along with so many of you right here in the room.

Though I have served in his role for just seven months, I’ve learned so much already about the organization and how much potential there is to help grow minority business enterprises. The proof is in the pudding. In the first three quarters of FY17, MBDA secured $2.9 billion in financing and contracts, and created and retained more than 5,300 jobs. Pretty impressive, right? Well, in the fourth quarter of FY17 alone, MBDA secured $6.1 billion in financing and contracts, and created or retained more than 12,700 jobs – more than doubling results of the previous three quarters combined.

If there’s one thing that this Administration recognizes and respects, it is strong business like those we are celebrating in this room today. Last October, President Trump issued a proclamation in observance of National Minority Enterprise Development Week October 22-28. But the Administration’s involvement didn’t end there.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross joined me in Detroit for the National MED Week celebration at the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s annual conference. Later that same week, President Trump welcomed the recipients of the MED Week Awards to the White House, posing for individual pictures and discussing policies he is putting in place to support and bolster American businesses (i.e. Tax Reform).  This Administration is the first ever, since President Ronald Reagan first declared MED Week in 1983, to host the award winners in the Oval Office with the President of the United States. The President’s acknowledgement of the tremendous contributions that minority-owned firms make to the U.S. economy also reflected his commitment to the growth of Minority Business Enterprises.

Under President Trump’s leadership and unwavering support of diversity in business, MBDA helped secure nearly $8 billion in capital and contracts for minority-owned businesses in FY17 alone. And we are confident that President Trump will continue to cultivate a presence of inclusion in the business community.

The historic tax cut passed earlier this year, for example, is a tremendous opportunity for minority-owned businesses. The bill will create an influx of capital into the marketplace. This capital will lead to investments in growing and expanding businesses, especially minority-owned businesses. Minority-owned businesses are already making a difference for our economy. They currently employ 8 million people and generate more than $1 trillion in annual economic output.

The success of minority-owned businesses is perhaps now more important than ever. By the year 2044, the United States will be a majority minority nation. That means our nation’s majority will be people of color and that means minority-owned businesses will also be on the rise. This presents a unique opportunity for every person here at this conference – and I believe that every person in this room is in a prime position to take full advantage of it. MBDA is here to help.

Our country is entering a new period of economic revitalization and the U.S. Department of Commerce is committed to ensuring that all American businesses continue to lead the work in economic output. MBDA is invested in your success, and we’re confident that this revitalization will especially be a boon for 8(a) companies. You’ve surely heard that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, but there’s definite weight behind that statement. At least 57 million Americans work for small businesses – nearly half of all private-sector jobs in the U.S. – and a staggering 99.7 percent of all American businesses are small businesses. Sustained economic growth in the U.S. depends on your success.

MBDA cannot do this work alone. We rely on you current and future 8(a) business owners for your ideas, expertise and your entrepreneurial spirit. We are motivated by your initiative and your creativity. And we look forward to working with you going forward, and building a more diverse and inclusive business environment that will benefit your business and the U.S. economy as a whole. Thank you for your time.