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Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo at the 2022 National Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference

Thank you, Under Secretary Cravins, for that introduction. We’re thrilled to have you on board as the Commerce Department’s first-ever Under Secretary for Minority Business Development.

And I want to thank all of you − our minority business enterprises in particular – for being here for the first in-person MED Week Conference in two years.

America has more than 9 million minority-owned firms that employ 8 million workers and contribute $1.7 trillion to the economy. You are the engine of America’s economy and a crucial driver of employment and prosperity in your communities.

At the Commerce Department, we are focused on creating opportunity and prosperity for ALL Americans. And we take that charge seriously.

Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, Congress has passed new bills that are making once-in-a-generation investments to rebuild our infrastructure, support our domestic semiconductor industry, and combat climate change. Both the Commerce Department and the entire Biden Administration are committed to ensuring that small and disadvantage businesses can partake in the unprecedented opportunities that these investments are bringing.

The Commerce Department is home to the Minority Business Development Agency, which is not only the host of this event but is also the only Federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting minority-owned businesses, enterprises, and entrepreneurs.

And just last year, MBDA became a permanent part of the federal government. We’re excited to see how we can grow MBDA’s reach and influence in communities across the country.

As a former venture capitalist with a background in investing in women and minority-owned businesses, I know that it’s far too difficult for minority business enterprises and entrepreneurs to access the capital they need to expand their workforce, launch a new line, or start exporting their products. It’s the top barrier they face.

That’s why I’m excited that the Treasury Department is transferring $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to MBDA to provide technical assistance to underserved entrepreneurs through the State Small Business Credit Initiative. We’ll have more to share soon.

I’m also thrilled that we’re making new investments in some of MBDA’s best resources for minority business enterprises – MBDA’s national network of Business Centers. These centers provide technical assistance to help minority business owners access capital, grants, and federal contracts; support job creation and retention; provide mentorship; and more.

We’re proud of the work the centers are doing. In Minneapolis, the MBDA Business Center helped a group of Somali-born nurses secure more than $2 million to acquire and renovate a building to house their residential care business. In New Mexico, the Four Winds Diversified Project Business Center helped an indigenous-staffed, woman-owned architecture firm secure certifications that are opening more opportunities for the firm’s business. And there are many more success stories from MBDA’s business centers just like these.

Today, we’re announcing $4.7 million in funding to both support 26 of MBDA’s existing business centers and open six new locations in Arkansas, Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Last year, MBDA helped minority business enterprises gain access to more than $70 billion in capital, secure more than $2 billion in contracts, and facilitate more than $330 million in export transactions. By extending our business center network, we’re going to build on these numbers, create more success stories, and give more minority business enterprises and entrepreneurs the tools they need to thrive.

Thank you all again for participating in this week’s conference. I hope you’ll take advantage of this week and all the resources that MBDA and the Commerce Department have to offer. We’re here to help. Enjoy MED Week!

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