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Happy New Year!

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As I begin my second full year leading the Minority Business Development Agency, I want to take a moment to express how honored I am to work with the Agency’s network of minority business centers and our public and private sector partners on behalf of the minority business community.  Minority-owned firms continue to grow and flourish despite tough economic conditions.

There are bright spots to consider.  The minority-business community generated $1 trillion in gross receipts and employed nearly 6 million workers according to recently released U.S. Census data.  In fact, employment at minority-owned firms grew by 27 percent compared to less than 1 percent for non-minority-owned firms over the same period.  While we still need to do more to create jobs, this is encouraging news.

On a broader level, the world in which we do business today is rapidly changing, and opportunities abound if you know where to look and what resources to tap into.

Every serious business owner must consider a company’s core capabilities and the industry in which they compete as we start the new year.  Now is the time to consider how you measure your company against the ever changing global business trends.  Ask yourself  - what does my company have to do to be successful in 2011? Then go out and make those things happen.

Over the last year, I have been encouraging minority-owned firms to look for new ways to grow.  Minority-owned firms should consider strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions as part of their growth strategy – not just domestically, but internationally.

Opportunities don’t always present themselves when you are ready and able – instead, they have a funny way of showing up when it is not at all convenient.  As a business owner, you should plan ahead and be ready for opportunities, whether those opportunities mean a new contract, a strategic partner, or even an opportunity to acquire another business to increase your size, scale and scope.

At MBDA, we plan to start the new year focused on our core competencies as well.  What sets MBDA apart is our ability to use our relationships to facilitate meetings and business opportunities on behalf of our clients.  Last year, we helped our clients access $1.5 billion dollars in contracts and $1.8 billion in capital leading to these firms creating nearly 5,000 new jobs.

We recognize that access to capital is a continuing challenge, but our business development specialists will help you realize your full potential and find capital to meet your needs.  Over the next year, we will be finding new ways to match our clients with potential capital sources – whether you need a traditional source such as loans or bonding or creating cash flow for your company through venture capital or merger and acquisitions, MBDA will help you navigate the financial services waters.

For some of you, contracting plays a big role in your 2011 strategic goals.  MBDA continues to build relationships with federal, state and local government procurement officers and helping to ensure a gateway to opportunities for minority-owned firms.  We also have and will call on our supplier diversity relationships at both private companies and corporations.  The minority population has a buying power of about $2.5 trillion – larger than the economies of all but five countries around the world.  Corporate America can garner greater loyalty from the minority community by making the minority business community an integral part of its supply chain.  MBDA will be working to open these doors wider in 2011.

And finally, in light of the fact that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the borders of the United States, MBDA is working closely with the International Trade Administration to identify new global markets and opportunities for our clients’ products and services.  There is tremendous opportunity in countries like China and India where they are experiencing the largest urban migration in history.  The growth of the world’s middle class means there is more discretionary spending abroad than there may be here at home.  Promoting U.S. produces and services abroad supports the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative which plans for doubling U.S. exports over the next five years and the anticipated creation of more than 2 million American jobs.

In 2011, all effective business strategies need to start with a view of the world.  We need to think about the products and services we provide, the opportunities to infiltrate global supply chains of multi-national corporations, and really dive deep into our own industries while learning more about what is going on in other business sectors. To continue to be successful, we need to understand that the global business community is radically changing – and at a pace that makes it difficult to keep up.  We need to stay ahead of demographic, technological and societal shifts and understand the nature of those shifts while making strategic moves that make good business sense and create value for our customers.

I encourage you to engage and MBDA Business Center as part of your 2011 strategy.  Our strength is in relationships– and we’d like to build one with you and your firm.

May each of you have even greater success in 2011, and I look forward to working with you.

From the Director

From the Director