WASHINGTON, D.C. – On August 5th, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (PAC-AAPI) convened its second Open Meeting in Washington, D.C. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), presided over the meeting and provided welcome remarks. The Commissioners also met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, Co-Chair of WHIAAPI, and discussed recommendations to the president on how the federal government can better assist AAPI-owned businesses through the current challenges and the future of business.
“We thank all of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are on the front lines of the battle with COVID. Every day, they are taking personal risks to save lives and keep our country safe, healthy, and whole. Many of the Nation’s 1.9 million AAPI-owned companies have suffered a dramatic loss of business due to the pandemic,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Despite this, we are making progress on the economy. Today’s report to the President is an important step in creating the policies that will further benefit and improve the fortunes of AAPI-owned businesses and I look forward to what more can be done in the near term.”
“It has been impressive to witness the dedication of the Commissioners of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as they continue their important work through the challenges of COVID-19,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. “As America reopens its economy, it is clear that our community’s contributions to the economic vitality of our country are needed now more than ever.”
The Commission is tasked by President Trump’s Executive Order to provide advice to the President, through the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, on how to broaden access by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) employers and communities to economic resources and opportunities.
“Before the pandemic, AAPI owned businesses generated over $700B in annual revenue, our buying power was more than $900B annually and our population is only 22.5 million, at less than 7% of the population. We are committed to recapturing and exceeding that strength,” said Dr. Paul Hsu, Chair of PAC-AAPI, “Our civic engagement on behalf of the entire AAPI community is essential during these challenging times. We are making steady progress on recommendations in development for submission through both Secretaries to advise the President.”
Also joining the meeting was National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), David Byrd, who presented on MBDA’s current priorities and its support of minority owned businesses through the pandemic, particularly through CARES Act grants. Alex Flemister, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison also joined the meeting and provided his update on outreach to the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community through the White House.
Commissioners spent the earlier half of the day meeting with White House officials, including Assistant to the President and Acting Director Brooke Rollins of the Domestic Policy Council, Deputy Director Derek Kan of the Office of Management and Budget, and Chris Pilkerton, White House Senior Policy Advisor and Executive Director of White House Opportunity NOW. Commissioners also met with Kevin O’Connell, Director of the Office of Space Commerce at the U.S. Department of Commerce and discussed diversifying the talent pool and the growing opportunities in space commerce.
August 5, 2020 – President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders second open meeting in the Lincoln Boardroom, U.S Department of Transportation. Photo Credit: Melanee Kate Thomas