Showing posts with label MBDA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MBDA. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Obama To Close Minority Biz Dev Offices

According to Politic365, "Officials from the Commerce Department briefed members of Congress..to inform them that the Obama Administration plans to close all five regional Offices of the Minority Business Development Agency.

According to members at the briefing the reason given was cost savings. The Office of Minority Business Development has a total budget of $30 million dollars. The five regional offices are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Office of Minority Business Development‘s mission is to promote competitiveness and provide access to capital and contracts to minority businesses. In 1969 Richard Nixon established the Office of Minority Business Enterprise by executive order. During the Carter Administration the name was changed to the Office of Minority Business Development.

Present at the meeting with Commerce officials were Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (D-CA) and Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Bobby Scott (D-VA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) among others.

Several members were unhappy with the decision.

“It sends the wrong message to entrepreneurs and businesses in our community at this time when we need to have an expansion,” Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said. Rush offered legislation to increase funding to the Minority Business Development Agency.

“This is message administrating, message management and message politics. It doesn’t have anything to do with the bottom line. The best message is one of expansion of the MBDA so it can do its work and meet its mission on the ground level and on the local level on the front line,” Rush added. Rush added that he has had a great working relationship with the regional office in Chicago.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) who is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said, “I’m terribly upset about this. The explanation we received yesterday did not satisfy my objections.” Butterfield indicated strongly the offices are important to minority businesses.

“My regional office is in Atlanta. To just have a hub in Washington that services the whole country will not be an efficient use of that office,” the North Carolina congressman and longtime state judge added. Butterfield’s sentiments were repeated by other members.

Asked whether this was something that could effect minority business contracting Butterfield said, “Without question. It will lead to nothing but utter confusion. All in the name of 30 million to 29 million. So it’s not a substantial cut in the agency. Not enough to close five offices,” Butterfield added. Several members mentioned that the “cost savings” argument was unsatisfactory.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver said he has a regional hub in Kansas City. Cleaver was not at the briefing and was generally unaware of the details of the decision. He was unenthusiastic about the office running out of Washington. “People in Washington have no idea what’s going on in Kansas City and St. Louis and DesMoines and Omaha,” he said.

House Small Business Committee member Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) was also very concerned saying she feared the regional closings might be, “the beginning of the demise of the agency.”

When the views of his colleagues were relayed to him, CHC Chair Charlie Gonzales said he shared the concerns of his colleagues. He added, “Where do you see the model that is being proposed in other areas that provide services to minority communities? Just about every meaningful agency and department has regional presence — SBA has regional offices.”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who is a member of the House Small Business Committee was unaware of the decision to close the offices but echoed the sentiment of several Democrats. West said he was concerned because, “we have to do something about urban economic development.”

Rep. Jose Serrano, a senior member of House Appropriations was unaware of the regional office closings but said generally, “it would not be a good idea” if the offices were closed.

Several members who attended the meeting expressed concern about the regional offices closing and were unenthusiastic upon hearing the news. The members cited concerns that contracting for minority business is already challenging and may be made even more problematic by the closings.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) who added language to create an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform bill, commented on the closings.

Like many other members, Waters was unsure of what the effect of the closings would be. She said she would talk to business leaders in her district saying, “I’ll be calling my Chamber of Commerce people” and several others. Waters was not at the briefing but had heard of the closings before yesterday’s member briefing.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) who is the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee said the move was an effort to consolidate offices and bring “things under one umbrella.” Though Velazquez was not in the briefing with Commerce officials she was aware that the five offices would be closed.

Several members pointed out that the the work of the regional offices might be best done on the local office level but still fear the office closings would effect minority businesses. They were also concerned about whether the current employees will be reassigned to local offices or cut completely. Rep. Butterfield said he’d been told the employees could possibly relocate to Washington.

Several members of Congress sent a letter dated February 10 to Commerce Secretary John Bryson expressing concerns on minority business efforts and the Minority Business Development Agency. The meeting yesterday was effectively the answer to that correspondence.

Neither Secretary Bryson or the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency, David Hinson was at the member briefing. The press contact for the Offices of Minority Business Development was unavailable at the time of this filing."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advisory Board Member Howie Hodges mentioned

In an article on the Black Enterprise Magazine blog about the nomination of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Obama Administration Commerce Secretary, Creative Investment Research, Inc. Advisory Board Member C. Howie Hodges, "who was an assistant director for the department’s Minority Business Development Agency during Clinton’s first administration" noted that,

"Richardson had a very good strategic team and I have no doubt that he will put in place a very capable combination of savvy business people who will also have the political skills to help execute Obama’s mandate to create economic and job growth,' says Hodges, who is currently a senior vice president of One Economy Corp., a global nonprofit that delivers access to technology and content to low- and moderate-income households.

In addition, says Hodges, during the Clinton administration, the agency actively aimed to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses in the private and international trade sectors. Under the leadership of the late Secretary Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash over Croatia, the agency led trade missions to several foreign nations for those businesses and helped them form strategic alliances with such major corporations as Disney, Kodak, and Lockheed Martin.

Because MBDA works with federal agencies across the board, adds Hodges, despite not having a direct appropriation, during the Clinton administration it was able to establish memorandums of understanding with various agencies to form joint ventures with cities and private-sector corporations and explore a variety of international trade opportunities. 'Everybody kind of honed in on what their agency could do to promote these very broad goals. Access to capital wasn’t just at SBA; it was at all of the federal agencies. Access to emerging markets wasn’t just through Commerce, it was also through Energy, which saw tremendous growth in working with minority and women owned businesses,' explains Hodges.

Under Richardson, Hodges believes that minority businesses should seek both increased access to capital, which is always a critical component to success, and access to markets and opportunity. Small business loans, expanded credit, encouraging venture capital companies and minority venture capital companies to invest in minority business will be paramount to the abilities of mid-tier companies’ to build capacity and start-up firms to create new business.

“When you look at job growth and taking our economy from a recession to one that’s growing, a lot of that growth is going to come from new businesses hiring people,” says Hodges.

The important role that green jobs and businesses, environmental sustainability, and energy efficiency will play in rebuilding the nation’s economy is another reason why he thinks Richardson’s past experience at Energy will be an asset in his new role. At the same time, he cautions, it would be unwise to underestimate the importance of technology, another area over which Commerce has oversight.

'Richardson and Obama’s administration need to look at creating a national broadband strategy to help America continue its global competitiveness that will enable it to provide a catalyst for economic growth and job creation,' says Hodges. 'MBDA has been underutilized and a lot will depend on the administration. If it has a priority and focus, the agency will.' "