Thank you Voice of God for that kind introduction. Welcome to the 29th annual Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference. On behalf of President Barack Obama and Acting Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank, we are delighted you could join us for this very important event.
This year in addition to our many guests from across the Nation, we have visitors from Turkey, England, China, and other parts of the world. And, we all come together not just to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in this nation and around the world. But we come together to learn about business opportunities in the global marketplace and to network and to build stronger relationships across industry sectors.
So, we come here because it is crucial to our Nation that we work together to rebuild the economic foundation of our communities. And it is business owners, those of you who have taken it upon yourself to accept the risks and challenges of building a business, that are leading the way.
That is why the theme for this year’s conference is “Emerging Industries and Markets: A Blueprint for Success.” Over the next 3 days, you will have an opportunity to:
Discover how to use trade fairs and trade missions to expand your business.
Learn about international financing alternatives available to you through the federal government.
Learn about expanding your business through acquisition by attending a graduate level session on how to buy a company.
And learn how to leverage the resources of the Small Business Administration.
At this year’s MED Week, you will hear from Cabinet Secretaries and senior officials from the Administration. You will hear from CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. And, you will hear from some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Nation who have built their companies from small ‘mom and pop operations’ to global enterprises.
I cannot promise you a lot of sleep during the next 3 days, but if you take full advantage of this Conference, if you bear down and focus on the opportunities that are available to you through this experience, I can promise you that you will leave Washington, DC with new contracts, new strategic partners, greater access to capital and a greater appreciation for the opportunities that exist in the global markets. But all of this would not be possible without our extraordinary group of sponsors.
And what makes them extraordinary is that during these difficult times when companies large and small are struggling to maintain these corporations stepped up BIG. They recognize the power of diversity and understand that the future of our Nation exists with the minority business community. By 2042, America will have a majority minority population.
Thus, it is imperative that the minority business community grow and prosper. Unlike many other corporations, our MED Week sponsors understand the business case for rebuilding the wealth base of minority communities. So I ask you to please join me in giving our sponsors a warm round of applause. Today, we are in a difficult economic period. When the President first took office, our economy was losing 750,000 jobs per month. And while we have created over 2.2 million jobs there are still far too many of our fellow citizens unemployed.
Over 14 million Americans are unemployed today and another 6 million have given up looking for jobs. That is why creating more jobs is the number one goal of our Administration. And we know the best way to create jobs is through expanding business ownership and individual entrepreneurship. The most productive companies creating jobs are those owned and operated by you: minority-owned, women-owned and small businesses. Minority-owned firms employ 6 million Americans and create 10 million more jobs simply through their economic activity. But if we eliminate the impediments to minority business expansion, MBEs have the potential to create 18 million jobs.
The Minority Business Development Agency serves as a catalyst for job creation by helping you overcome the challenges you face in accessing contracts, accessing capital, and accessing new markets. And we have been successful. Since the beginning of the Obama administration. We have assisted minority-owned firms in obtaining nearly $7 billion of contracts and capital, creating over 11,000 new jobs and saving tens of thousands of existing jobs. But there’s much more work to be done. Going forward we will continue to set greater goals and work to better integrate our efforts with corporate America and our other strategic partners.
We will work to reestablish our Nation’s economy by helping minority owned businesses embrace 21st-century growth strategies, including: Growth through merger, acquisition. And we will strive to help minority owned firms leverage their unique competitive advantages in the global marketplace. Why is this important? Because the bigger your firm becomes the more jobs you can create for members of your community. And MBDA is here to help you. In the coming months, one area where MBDA plans to provide dramatically higher support is in the area of federal government contracting. And I am pleased to announce the establishment of our new MBDA Federal Procurement Center.
This business center which will be located here in Washington, DC is the first Center of its type in the Nation. It will provide minority businesses who are interested in obtaining federal contracts with the tools, information, and relationships necessary to compete and win. This Center will join our national network of MBDA Business Centers. And, the opening of this Center is a direct result of the Obama administration’s commitment to ensuring that all businesses share in the jobs and opportunities created by the federal government.
I would like to add that we just opened two new MBDA Business Centers in Denver and Cleveland and in the coming months, we will open new Centers in New York, Boston Connecticut, Minneapolis, Riverside, California, and Anchorange, Alaska.Will all the members of the MBDA Business Center network please stand? Please make sure you seek out one of these business experts if you are not already a client of MBDA.
But even with the support of MBDA, SBA and others in the executive branch our nation’s businesses still need help in growing so they can prosper and create jobs. That is why earlier this month President Obama presented to the nation the American Jobs Act. This plan, which Congress must pass without delay, would provide a significant new tax cut for small businesses. Specifically, it would cut the payroll tax in half on the first $5 million of wages paid by a company. And it gives incentives to hire our Nation’s veterans returning from war.
The American Jobs Act extends the 100 percent expensing for capital expenditures into 2012; So if you are buying any new equipment, computers, factory equipment or biotechnology equipment for your lab you can expense 100 percent of that equipment today.
The American Jobs Act would also empower states with new flexibility to allow out-of-work Americans to continue receiving unemployment benefits while they apprentice or take internships. This will help create a stronger workforce and provide you with a more skilled workforce. Equally as important, a payroll tax cut would put more money in the pockets of American consumers today.
Under the American Jobs Act, the average American family will have $1,500 to spend that would otherwise be paid in taxes. We believe this will dramatically increase consumer spending which should create greater certainty in our economy.
These measures and others in the American Jobs Act such as modernizing our schools and strengthening our infrastructure will boost the private sector and put more people back to work. We need your voice of support on this measure.
These are indeed challenging times for our Nation but it is in times of challenge that we have the greatest opportunity to show our value. The President once said that we are the ones we have been waiting for; we are the ones that can change the world.
And we must embrace this view. The alternative is to cede ground to other countries to let someone else lead. But following is not the behavior that made you great and it’s not the behavior that made America great. I am quite sure there is not one person in this room that believes that this Nation should follow. And certainly our Administration does not accept being anything less than a leader. As a country, we do not compete to place. We compete to win.
So during this MED Week Conference, let us all work together to win! Thank you.