MBDA Business Center opens with fanfare in Riverside
By Chris Levister –
With a $1.75 million grant to create jobs and a White House invitation to participate in ‘Winning the Future’, Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge on Monday joined David A. Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and a host of dignitaries, and business owners in celebrating the opening of the new MBDA Business Center in Riverside.
The center, located on Airport Drive, will receive the U.S. Department of Commerce’s MBDA grant to stimulate job creation, help minority businesses compete globally and domestically, and gain access to contracts, capital and markets.
The center will be operated by the Riverside-based Southern California Corporate Growth Partners.
MBDA Minority Business Development Centers assist minority entrepreneurs and business owners with counseling services, contract and financing opportunities, bonding and certification services, building business-to- business alliances and executive training.
“Ask the question of what should be the priority of our city, region and state. The operative word is job creation,” Loveridge told a crowd seated under a large white tent.
“With this grant the region will expand its growth and the global competitiveness of our minority business community, making it better equipped to create jobs, and st imulate the recovery of our region and nation. We are looking forward to a strong partnership with the MBDA.”
David A. Hinson, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency said the Riverside center will serve as a model of economic fairness and job stimulation for MBDA’s national network of five regional offices and 48 minority business centers.
“In his 2011 State of the Union address President Obama made it clear that we as a country must commit to winning the future: outinnovating, out-building and outeducating the rest of the world,” said Hinson.
“The President’s call was to the heart and soul of America, asking us to look into ourselves and inquire, “What are we contributing to making America greater?” “Are we willing to do the hard work that is required to bring that great idea to fruition and to educate ourselves in preparation for global competition and to continue to build our nation?”
Hinson said the Obama Administration continues to demonstrate its commitment to put more Americans to work and foster economic growth.
“In three years of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, this administration has created 16,000 new jobs through MBDA minority owned companies and assisted minority owned firms in gaining access to over $10 billion in contracts and capital, compared to $7 billion created in four years under the previous administration,” said Hinson.
In conjunction with Black History Month the MBDA released data from 2007 Survey of Business Owners describing details about the minority business community. The study shows the number of African American-owned firms increased by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million firms.
Employment at these firms also grew 22 percent from 754,000 to 921,000. The rate of employment growth is significantly higher than that of non-minority-owned firms which grew employment at a rate of less than one percent during the same period. Hinson said however, the true economic potential of African American firms is not being realized.
“As we celebrate African- American History Month, this is a time to unite behind the dream of making America even stronger. African Americans, because of the unique historical barriers have been masters of making a way out of no way. It’s that kind of fiber that I still see exhibited in minority businesses today that are recognizing that the old business model is not enough.”
NAACP: “Grand opening snubs African American stakeholders”
Woodie Rucker-Hughes, president of the Riverside chapter NAACP agrees the old business model is not enough referring to the absence of African American participation in the center’s grand opening event including the MBDA Grant Presentation to So Cal Corporate Growth Partners.
“I find it troubling that the Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce, Moreno Valley Black Chamber and or the Urban League whose historic movement is to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights are not represented on the board or at today’s opening event,” said Rucker-Hughes.
“If I were to take a picture of everyone represented here today. When I show you that photo: who are you looking for? Yourself,” she said. “If you’re not in that picture you’re inclined to say this is a fine presentation but I’m not really included.”
“We don’t intend however to sit on the side lines and pout,” Rucker-Hughes said. “We intend to make our presence known and insist on being an inclusive part of this entire process.”
Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely, managing partner The Sundance Company and Chair of Riverside-based The Group added “This is a great opportunity for the Inland Empire to shine on the national job creation front, however, my hope is this center and its board will truly live up to the economic fairness model pitched by President Obama in his State of the Union address and reiterated today by MBDA Director Hinson.”
Following the opening event Hinson and a handful of invited guests adjourned to the nearby offices of the Greater Hispanic Chamber to participate in a “Winning the Future Roundtable wi th American Business.” The White House Business Council will hold such roundtables in at least 100 communities across the country by year-end.
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