Remarks by MBDA National Director David Hinson at the MED Week Opening Plenary

Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference
Washington, DC

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference. How many of you had the opportunity to attend the Inter-American Bank reception last night. For those who did not make it, it was a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with fellow CEO and learn about the extraordinary economic opportunities in Brazil.

This year, as in years past, we come together here in our Nation’s Capital to focus on the most important of activities for our nation – strengthening the economic foundation, creating jobs and protecting the economic future of our citizens. We come to this conference from many states, many backgrounds and from many different industries.  In this room you will find a rich mosaic of diverse experiences, attitudes and views.

Take a moment and look at your neighbor. Look a little closer….stare for a moment if you must.  What you are looking at is the future of this nation. What you are looking at is what makes America the most fascinating nation in the world. But what brings us all together is a fundamental belief that the free market system is a vehicle to enhance our lives, build our communities and strengthen our nation.

At this conference, we routinely take a moment to celebrate the hard earned success of the minority business community—nearly 6 million strong—and applaud those among us who are recognized for their extra-ordinary achievement. At today’s luncheon, we’ll pay tribute to 13 individuals but let’s start out the morning with a round of applause for the 2012 MED Week award winners.

However, this year is a bit different. This year is a little more special to me and to the Department of Commerce family. This year we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference. 30 years ago way back in 1982, MED Week was an idea born in a time of near infancy for businesses from urban communities.

Let me take you back to 1982! 1n 1982 the very first CD player was sold in Japan. The median price for an existing home was $67,800. And the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1,046. For those who don’t follow the stock market let me put this in context.  Today, the Dow is hovering around 12,900 an amazing 1,133% increase in 30 years. In 1982, a gallon of gas cost you 91 cents. A postage stamp cost you 20 cents. Elvis Presley Home “Graceland” opened for businesses. The top television show was Magnum P.I. And Michael Jackson released his second solo album Thriller - anyone remember Thriller?

Ronald Regan was President of the United States in 1982 and Proclaimed both National Hispanic Heritage Week and MED Week by Presidential Proclamation. Mr. Victor Rivera was Director of the Minority Business Development Agency. And in 1982 the minority population represented 17% of the total US population, while the minority business community totaled approximately 743,000 companies generating a mere $34.5 billion in gross receipts for the U.S. economy.

I might add that in 1982 you only needed $75 million of wealth to make it on the Forbes 400 List. Today you can slide on the list with a mere $1.1 billion - so there is still hope for me! Through your hard work and diligence, minority-owned firms have grown from a small sector of the U.S. economy to part of the foundation of America’s economic future.

Today, the minority population in the United States presents 37% of the total U.S. population and is on its way to becoming over 50% of the US population by 2042. Today, 50.4% of all children under 1 years of age are members of fast growing minority populations. And today, the minority business community is represented by over 5.8 million companies that generate over $1 trillion dollars of economic output to the US economy. Minority-owned businesses of today are also the tip of the spear when it comes to the future export potential of nation.

Minority-owned firms are twice as likely to export as other U.S. businesses, three times as likely to have international operations, six  times as likely to transact business in a language other than English and represent significant percentages of companies in key export sector sectors.

Unlike the America of 30-years ago - in the America of today, you can not have a conversation about the economic, social or political future of the nation without talking about the hopes and dream, aspirations and expectation of the Hispanic Americans….Asian Americans…African Americans, Native Americans and members of our fast growing Diaspora communities.

And if I may take a bit of latitude, I am proud to serve a newly reelected President, an Acting Secretary of Commerce and an Administration who understands and embraces the energy, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that these communities offer to our nation.

And so we are here, gathered for the 30th consecutive year, as President Obama has proclaimed, honoring Minority Enterprise Development Week and recommitting ourselves to equipping you with the tools and resources you need for success in the 21st century. In the global marketplace, that means helping you to “Build it Here and Sell It Everywhere!” At this Conference you will learn about:

  • federal contract opportunities that are available to you in Fiscal year 2013;

  • how to gain access to the supply chains of global companies who are leaders within their respective industries;

  • and how to expand your businesses through merger and acquisitions….joint venture and strategic partnerships

You will hear from the senior leadership of the Department of Commerce and the White House and you will have an opportunity to learn more about what we are doing support advanced manufacturing in the United States.

Most important, you will have an opportunity to build relationships which we all know is the key to long term success. I also hope you will meet the business experts’ members of MBDA Business Centers who will help you grow your businesses globally. Would the representatives from our network of 41 MBDA Business Centers please stand.

Let’s give them a round of applause and please, make sure you sign up to be a client of one of these centers, if you aren’t already! These are the people who year-end and year-out put nearly $4 billion of contacts and capital into the hands of minority-owned businesses. These are also the people who will help you identify contract opportunities around the world, provide you access to global financing options and introduce you into the upper echelons of Corporate America.

At today’s conference, you will also meet the CEOs and national leaders that make up the Secretary’s National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise. Would members of our advisory council who are with us please stand! Over lunch, we will formally recognize some of the nation’s leading minority-owned firms and champions who are legends in their own right.  The luncheon will be extra special. 

Finally you will have the opportunity to network at the global business-to-business expo where you can travel down: Government Row…Embassy Row….Access to Capital Row…..and Signature Sponsors Row…..  and get information on how to do business with their companies, countries and agencies. Let me not forget that you can participate in the one-on-one business matchmaking sessions and visit the DELTEK- American Express Open Pavilion.

So you have a lot to do in one day!  And with more than 1,000 people registered for this conference, you have a lot of people to meet, too!! As I bring my remarks to conclusion, I want to acknowledge our extraordinary sponsors whose financial support makes this conference possible.  They are listed in the program book and are wearing ribbons on their nametags. Please join me in giving our sponsors a round of applause!

Now for me comes the best part – that is introducing our key note speaker for this morning – MY BOSS – Dr. Rebecca Blank! Dr. Rebecca Blank currently holds positions of Acting Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of Commerce. She assumed the role of Acting Secretary in June, 2012. As Acting Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Blank is a key member of President Obama’s economic team working to implement the administration’s top economic priorities to increase economic growth and accelerate job creation. 

Dr. Blank leads the Department’s efforts to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, helping make American businesses more innovative and successful at home and more competitive abroad, and to create good-paying jobs. In her role as Deputy Secretary, Dr. Blank also functions as Commerce’s chief operating officer, overseeing issues of management, policy and strategic planning for the department’s 12 bureaus. Dr. Blank is one of this nation’s brightest economists, holding a Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But in addition to being from my home state Missouri, Dr. Blank is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet. It is with great joy that I bring to you Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce

Thank you!