At a press conference on Tuesday, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) celebrated the grand opening of the NY– Manhattan MBDA Business Center (NYCMBC). Suzette C. Bather, project director of the center, gave the opening remarks, followed by Heyward B. Davenport, MBDA Northeast Regional Director who acknowledged and introduced speakers of the evening, MBDA National Director David A. Hinson, and President & CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), John Taylor.
NYCMBC is a business-development consulting firm managed by NCRC, an association of more than 600 community-based organizations that promotes access to basic banking services and creates affordable housing and job development for working families. Funded in part by the MBDA of the U.S. Department of Commerce, it provides management and business consulting assistance to minority-owned businesses throughout the NY/NJ region. It is the newest addition to a growing list of over 40 centers designed to stimulate job creation and the growth of minority-owned businesses.
According to Suzette Bather, NYCMBC project director, the center will play a key role in facilitating access to capital, providing access to markets and enhancing business efficiencies. “Our objective is to create jobs. We’ve experienced some challenges in providing jobs in the private sector, particularly, because the private sector has reduced its spending budgets. What we’ve done to supplement that is expose our clients to government contracts. The government has $500 billion in its purse to spend but a lot of people aren’t aware of that,” she says. “As a business center, we have to create $84 million dollars of business between contracts and capital for minority businesses. In that $84 million, we have to identify a number of jobs.”
Serving minority businesses since 1969, the MBDA specializes in global competitiveness. John Taylor, head of NCRC, says it’s all about leveling the playing field and being able to play on that field. “One of my favorite quotes is one by Alan Greenspan. He said the most important thing for a free market is competition. Well if you can’t get on that field or that field is rigged or the referees don’t play fair, how do you have real competition and how do you produce the kind of job results that everybody seeks? What’s great about this initiative with the new center is that it allows minority- and women-owned businesses to enter the field – where they traditionally would not have been able to do so - and compete successfully.”
Taylor says the major challenges for the agency are identifying potential contracts and business opportunities for minority-owned businesses, making sure those businesses are up to speed from a proficiency perspective and from a technical assistance perspective, and making sure those businesses are successful and can stay on top of whatever contract they get.
On the jobs front, the economy is still in the midst of a stubborn recession, though at press time, the House has passed a small part of President Barack Obama’s Jobs Bill. For Obama’s part, he’s been trying to get it passed for weeks. Says Taylor, “The commitment is there. I’d love to see the president get more support in Congress and do more in the way of a jobs bill. I think he’s doing what he can in this area but he could use some support.”
David Hinson, MBDA national director, agrees. “This president deserves some support. The American Jobs Act is something we need, but we can’t wait for it. We have got to create more jobs. The government can’t do it. It’s got to be you…those of you who own businesses. You will be the job creators and we are here to help,” he tells the crowd.
Last year, the agency generated nearly $4 billion dollars in contracts and capital for the minority business community. And at the end of FY 2009, the MBDA created more than 3,000 jobs. Bather says by the end of this year, the agency hopes to either meet that number or surpass it. Taylor agrees. “We’re all very optimistic that adding 1,000 more jobs is not out of the realm of possibility. I think that would be significant,” he says.
Compiled by the MBDA, below is 2011 data on minority business growth and global reach:
There are 5.8 million minority business enterprises (MBEs) in the United States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
MBEs represent 22% of all U.U. classifiable firms.
MBEs generate a total of $1.0 trillion in annual revenues.
Minority-owned firms employ 10% of all paid employees.
MBEs are twice as likely to export compared to non-minority-owned businesses.
The global reach of MBEs spans 41 countries on six continents.
Mexico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and India are the top five markets for minority-owned firms’ export activity.
The minority population has an estimated buying power of about $2.5 trillion.
NYCMBC is located on West 47th Street in Manhattan. For more information, go to www.mbda.gov.