Strengthening the economy domestically and internationally for small businesses is a big key to success, according to Alejandra Castillo, national deputy director of the Minority Business Development Agency, or MBDA.
“We want small businesses to thrive and flourish,” she said this morning as the keynote speaker at the White House Bi-State Minority Business Development Roundtable at the i wireless Center, Moline. The event, hosted by the Greater Quad-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also included roundtable discussions.
“We need to bring small businesses into the fold. The federal government has the opportunity to grow businesses,” she said. “There are 5.8 million small businesses in this country, and most have one or two employees. That doesn’t help the economy. We need to look at growth strategy.”
A major objective of the meeting is to leverage or examine existing programs, resources, best practices, issues and concerns among attendees, related to minority business development and the overall economic impact on the Quad-City region.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to draw attention and resources to enhance the economic development of the Quad-Cities and bi-state region, while impacting minority and women-owned businesses, and business overall,” said Alfred Ramirez, chamber president.
Castillo serves as the principal adviser to the MBDA national director and manages the day-to-day activities of the agency’s five regional offices and 48 minority business centers. Before joining the Obama Administration, she served as the interim executive director of the Hispanic National Bar Association in Washington, D.C.
She also served in President Clinton’s administration as a senior policy analyst to the deputy director at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
She told the audience to make connections.
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“Exchange business cards. Network,” she said. “These are tough times. I don’t have to tell you that. People are hurting.
“The challenge in living in Washington is you live in a bubble. You think you are living in the epicenter of the world, but you are not. It is places like the Quad-Cities, Omaha, Neb., or Corona, Queens, N.Y.”
Castillo, who grew up in Queens, plays an integral role in developing and implementing MBDA’s Global Export Initiative for the minority business community as part of Obama’s National Export Initiative.