U.S. Commerce Department Agencies Host CEO Fireside Chat in Commemoration of African American History Month

 U.S. Commerce Department Agencies Host CEO Fireside Chat in Commemoration of
                        African American History Month

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2014

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Commerce
Department's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and International
Trade Administration (ITA) today co-hosted a CEO Fireside Chat in recognition
of the significant contributions made by minority-owned firms to the U.S.
economy. MBDA Acting National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo and Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations Antwaun Griffin delivered remarks,
followed by a panel discussion with business leaders during the event, which
was also in commemoration of African American History Month.

In addition to highlighting MBDA and ITA's commitment to helping minority
entrepreneurs and business owners get access to capital, contracts, and other
tools they need to succeed, the event promoted the accomplishments of
distinguished African American CEOs. Sharon T. Freeman, Ph.D., president of
the All American Small Business Exporters Association (AASBEA), moderated the
discussion, which featured Ronald Hall, president and chief executive officer
of Bridgewater Interiors; B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., president and CEO of
Industrial Bank, N.A.; and Marie Johns, founder and president of L&L
Consulting LLC.

"This event was a launching pad for a collaborated outreach effort between
MBDA and ITA that will promote the commercial benefits of trade and investment
to the minority business community," said Castillo. "The U.S. had its fourth
straight year of record exports, with $2.3 trillion in exports in 2013, up
nearly $700 billion since 2009. So, the importance of minority-owned
businesses becoming a key component of U.S. international trade has never been

The primary objective of this collaboration and the event was to introduce
more minority business enterprises to the broad range of programs and services
available to assist them in accessing international markets through ITA's
Global Markets unit, as well as other federal government resources. Nearly 300
people, including in person and via live-stream, heard from the panelists
about the importance of international commerce and how it directly impacts the
growth and development of U.S. businesses, especially minority-owned firms.

"Minority-owned firms are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. export
community," said Griffin. "That is why the ITA and MBDA strategic partnership
is so important. Both our bureaus have come together to help educate minority
businesses on the numerous opportunities that are available to assist them in
exporting for the first time, and to help firms currently exporting to expand
to new markets."

Below is more information about the featured speakers:

Moderator: Sharon T. Freeman, Ph.D., is president of the All American Small
Business Exporters Association (AASBEA). Dr. Freeman has worked in over 100
countries specializing in helping small, minority, women and immigrant-owned
business connect, grow and thrive.

Ronald Hall is president and chief executive officer of Bridgewater Interiors,
which was the 2013 National Minority Enterprise Development Week Manufacturer
of the Year winner. Bridgewater Interiors is a joint venture between Epsilon
Technologies and Johnson Controls.

B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr. is president and CEO of Industrial Bank, N.A.,
headquartered in Washington, DC. Industrial Bank is the oldest and largest
African American owned commercial bank in the metropolitan Washington region.

Marie Johns is the founder and president L&L Consulting LLC, and has been a
leader in business, community and government services for more than 30 years.
Johns served as the U.S. Small Business Administration's Deputy Administrator
from June 2010 through June 2013.

About the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
MBDA, www.mbda.gov, is the only Federal agency dedicated to the growth and
global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses. Our programs and
services better equip minority-owned firms to create jobs, build scale and
capacity, increase revenues and expand regionally, nationally and
internationally. Services are provided through a network of MBDA Business
Centers. Follow us on Twitter @USMBDA.

About the International Trade Administration
The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the premier resource for
American companies competing in the global marketplace. ITA has 2,400
employees assisting U.S. exporters in more than 100 U.S. cities and 72
countries worldwide. For more information on ITA visit www.trade.gov.

Contact: MBDA Public Affairs
Website: www.mbda.gov Phone: (202) 482-1375
Fax: (202) 482-5117 Email: abetancourt@mbda.gov

SOURCE Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

Website: http://www.mbda.gov
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