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As MBDA Celebrates Its 47th Year, a Look Back At March 1969

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In the early morning of March 5, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon emerged from the private residence of The White House and received his daily schedule.  As usual, it was packed with ceremonial events and meetings concerning governance.

Tucked between a 7am breakfast with NSA Assistant Director Henry Kissinger, and a lunch-hour meeting with Urban Affairs Assistant, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Nixon had an event with a very long title:

“Creation of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise and [signing] the Executive Order, ‘Prescribing Arrangements for developing and coordinating a National Program for Minority Business Enterprise.’"

In the Cabinet Room of the White House, President Nixon signed Executive Order 11458, establishing a U.S. Department of Commerce division now known as the Minority Business Development Agency.

About 40 guests were invited, including representatives from minority chambers of commerce from across the nation, as well as several cabinet officials, including:

  • U.S. Secretary of Commerce,  Maurice H. Stans
  • Hilary Sandoval, Administrator, Small Business Administration
  • George Romney, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Walter Hamilton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Business Policy.

The formation of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise happened during a period of social and political turmoil in many American cities.  

While the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act had been signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson earlier in the 1960s, by the end of the decade, President Nixon acknowledged that the Federal Government needed to do more.

During the signing ceremony, Nixon’s statement reflected the economic imperative of establishing a Federal agency that promotes the establishment and growth of businesses owned and operated by minority entrepreneurs:

I have today issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Commerce to coordinate Federal programs related to the strengthening of minority business enterprise, and authorizing him to take the necessary steps to do so effectively.

The President continued: This is not a substitute for the many other efforts that continue to be needed if we are to make headway against the ravages of poverty. It is a supplement, dealing with a special but vital part of the broader effort to bring the members of our minority groups into full participation in the American society and economy. Its success will be measured by tangible results, not by the volume of studies.

Nearly five decades later, the Minority Business Development Agency has made great strides toward accomplishing the goals laid out by President Nixon.  

For example, in FY 2014, MBDA supported the creation and retention of nearly 31,000 jobs by assisting minority-owned businesses in obtaining access to nearly $6.9 billion in contracts and capital—exceeding the previous year’s record level by 45%. Job creation and retention by MBDA clients has increased 55% since 2012.

As MBDA approaches a half-century, MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo salutes the Agency for more than four decades of service to our nation’s minority-owned businesses.

“I am honored to lead an agency devoted to its mission of service to the nation’s 8 million minority-owned businesses,” said MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo.  “We are proud of the role MBDA has played for 47 years in supporting the growth and resilience of the minority business community, and we look forward to the years ahead.” 

Visit to learn more about our 47 year history.

MBDA Agency

MBDA Agency