Washington Report

Updates from Capitol Hill

MBDA Gets Seat at Recovery Act Table

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For many years, the Minority Business Development Agency has been treated rather like Cinderella—before the fairy godmother magically appeared, existing at the pleasure of the president and underfunded. That may be about to change.

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, convened a Thursday afternoon hearing on what role MBDA can play in getting Recovery Act and other federal contracting dollars to minority businesses and communities. None of the subcommittee’s Republican members showed up.

MBDA director David Hinson said in his testimony that, “Challenges in developing capacity, including lack of capital, increased contract bundling and intensified supply chain competition, among other factors, are adversely affecting the growth and competitiveness of minority businesses.” He believes the hearing signals a genuine interest on the part of Congress to take a more active role in the growth and development of minority businesses nationwide.

But Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, said that the hearing is a first step in raising public awareness of the importance of minority business. But, he added, “The lack of any Republican participation demonstrates that there’s not a commitment on behalf of all policymakers to make this a reality. Chairman Bobby Rush says time and time again that we’re going to concentrate on minority business development and I’m going to hold him to his word.” Butterfield also said funding for MBDA must be increased.

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