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MBDA Homecoming

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Created on June 6, 2016

It was a family reunion of sorts for nearly 50 Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center Operators and Project Directors who traveled from across the United States to attend the 2016 MBDA Post Awards Conference at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

The conference is normally held every five years at the start of a new award cycle for the Agency’s funding competition, with the last conference being held in 2011.

The attendees were all recipients of $31.5 million in federal funding awarded to 21 MBDA Business Centers across the United States and Puerto Rico back in April as part of the MBDA Business Center Program.

MBDA provides the funding through a cooperative agreement with the nationwide network of MBDA Business Centers.

The day-long event, hosted by members of MBDA’s Office of Business Development, was designed to familiarize business center staff with the regulations and policies pertaining to their grants and the Agency and business center program mission and objectives.

“We have some new faces here that will help us to bring in the next generation of MBDA Business Centers,” said MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo. “The work that you do is needed now more than ever,” Castillo said. “So I hope that you take full advantage of this new opportunity.”

In addition, MBDA staff members held a question and answer session after briefing attendees on public affairs strategies, information technology, and business development.

In the past, the conference was conducted almost exclusively by webinar, but this gathering allowed for a much broader engagement between MBDA staffers and the business center operators.

“We really wanted to provide a setting where our new and returning operators could come and engage with us and each other face to face. It was very important to provide them with that opportunity,” said Nakita Chambers, Supervisory Program Manager for Grants.  “They’re a major part of the MBDA family and we want to ensure they have immediate access to the support and resources they need to be successful from day one.”

South Bronx MBDA Project Director Sharon Higgis attended the conference for first time. “It’s a lot of information to digest, but I’m glad we were able to be here. Some things we are familiar with and some things are new for us, but I’ll definitely be going back and reviewing everything we’ve heard today.”

Since 2009, MBDA Business Centers have assisted minority firms with gaining access to more than $31 billion in capital and contracts, while creating and retaining nearly 142,000 jobs.

The Centers assist Minority Business Entrepreneurs with global business development, access to capital and finance management, access to contracts, access to markets, and strategic business consulting.

The business center program’s strategic focus is to maximize job creation and global competitiveness for minority-owned businesses and to foster innovation and entrepreneurship with minority-owned businesses in high-growth industries.

For more information on upcoming MBDA grant competitions or the business center program, visit

MBDA Agency

MBDA Agency