MBDA Export Center draws nearly 700 to One-Day MEDWeek Conference in Miami
The 36th Annual Minority Enterprise Development Week (MEDWeek) Conference & Awards Power Lunch Hosted by MBDA Export Center of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce happened in Miami this week.
More than 600 delegates representing business, government, and resource interests across South Florida, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and Africa participated in the minority business enterprise event of the year at the InterContinental Hotel Miami, Oct. 19.
Hosted by the MBDA Export Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the 36th Annual Minority Enterprise Development Week (MEDWeek) Conference & Awards Power Lunch also drew fifteen powerful speakers and industry experts from the private and public sectors.
Keynote speaker Efrain Gonzales, Jr., associate director for business development at the MBDA National Office in Washington, set the tone by stating that “The Minority Business Development Agency is proud of the work of the Export Center in South Florida to advance the growth and global competiveness of minority-owned firms.”
With a conference theme of “Minority Business Enterprises – On the Cutting Edge of America’s Economic Growth,” Marie Gill, president of M. Gill & Associates, and operator of the MBDA Export Center, stated that the MEDWeek event in South Florida continues to provide an “unmatched platform” for minority business enterprises (MBEs) to obtain increased financing and contracting opportunities, access global markets, and create local jobs.
A program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the primary goal at Florida’s MBDA Export Center is to foster the growth and global competitiveness of minority businesses. MEDWeek is the MBDA’s annual event that recognizes and celebrates the achievements of MBEs and their contributions to the local and national economies.
MEDWeek co-chair Desmond Alufohai echoed Gill’s remarks, adding that there are enormous growth opportunities here in Miami-Dade where more than 82,000 small businesses employ 53.3 percent of the county’s entire workforce. Alufohai is the Senior International Trade Coordinator with the Office of EDITA, Miami-Dade County.
MEDWeek Conference presenters focused on four specifics areas of discussion:
• Access to Capital • Access to Contracts • Access to Markets • Branding strategies
On the Access-to-Capital front, Director of Policy Initiatives with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Grey Dodge, joined DEO Deputy Chief of Staff Erin Gillespie in providing an overview of the Florida Opportunity Zones Initiative.
The Access–to-Capital segment also featured Ashley D. Bell, Esq., Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), who explained the myriad direct and guaranteed financing tools that are available from the SBA and its partners.
Access-to-Contracts speakers were Mayor Angel Perez Otero, of Guaynabo City, Puerto Rico; and Kamal I. Latham, CEO of the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. They each focused on access to contracts, including the approximately $4 billion in disaster recovery contracting opportunities that are available to help rebuild Puerto Rico and the USVI.
Eduardo Torres, director of South Florida U.S. Commercial Service for the U.S. Department of Commerce, eloquently addressed the Access-to-Markets topic by providing tips on market-entry strategies for new exporters.
Finally, Dr. Susan Amat, CEO and founder of Venture Hive, talked about the power of small business branding through technology.
“The highly anticipated Annual MEDWeek Awards Power Lunch did not disappoint,” says Gill, with an awards ceremony paying tribute to the following outstanding MBEs and advocates:
• Statewide Minority Exporter of the Year: Vortex Worldwide Logistics; • Statewide Minority Construction Firm of the Year: Lemartec Corporation; • Minority Health Products & Services Firm of the Year: Natural Vitamins Laboratory; • Statewide Minority Technology Firm of the Year: Venture Hive, LLC; • Access to Capital Advocate of the Year: Gladys Keith, President – FSB Agency, Inc.; • Minority Veteran-Owned Firm of the Year: IMR Development Corp.; • Statewide Minority Manufacturer of the Year: Champion Controls, Inc.; • Statewide Export Advocate of the Year: Daisy Ramos-Winfield, Executive Vice President – Florida Export Finance Corp.; • Disaster Recovery Advocate of the Year – Puerto Rico: Hon. Angel Perez Otero, Mayor – City of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; and • Disaster Recover Advocate of the Year – U.S. Virgin Islands: Kamal I. Latham, Chief Executive Officer – USVI – Economic Development Authority.
MBDA EXPORT CENTER The Florida MBDA Export Center, operated by M. Gill & Associates Inc., provides technical assistance and growth services to generate increased financing, contracting opportunities, and greater access to new and global markets for minority business enterprises (MBEs). The Center also identifies, screens, trains, promotes, and refers MBEs to exporting resources, and directly sources opportunities for their domestic and global growth.