Q&A: Commerce Department’s Rick Wade

Commerce Department's Wade discusses advancing the Obama agenda

Dingle: One of the challenges that we have, we find a number of minority entrepreneurs that don’t want to access the international market or they are intimidated about accessing that. How do you bring down the barriers? How do you communicate to black businesses that this is the wellspring of opportunity and how can you communicate the tools that they need to access those international opportunities?

Wade: Well some of it is helping minority companies understand that the economy is not local, the economy is indeed global, and trade is obviously a very important part of commerce. And so I think once we help companies understand that we have a wealth of resources, take for example the International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce, and within that the Foreign Commercial Services Office all across the world, that will literally take you by the hand and walk you through the process and broker relationships with the right principles in other countries. That’s what we do and we do very well.

So we’re committed to doing this and providing the market intelligence so companies know where they can compete abroad. But, when you look at countries like China, when you look at even opportunities in Africa, while there are challenges that are incredible opportunities, so we want to make sure that we can transfer that market information back to our American small businesses and minority businesses can help them move along that pathway to global competition.

Dingle: You talked about Africa, considered one of the frontiers for opportunity. How do you go through the process of helping minority entrepreneurs, or businesses in general, figure out what countries they should do business with, where are the danger spots and where are the areas of opportunity? Do you do that through the ITA?

Wade: Yes.

Dingle: If you can elaborate on that –

Wade: Well, I think the International Trade Administration, you mentioned ITA, they have a wealth of knowledge and information about what the market opportunities are in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world. So, yes, that is where we start. Ultimately we would like to be able to do some trade missions where we could take some of our companies, business leaders here to Africa, and vice versa, bring those leaders to America. Because they too want to understand our economy, what we will be bearing in this new economy and where the opportunities are. So it is a two-way exchange and that is precisely what Commerce, through ITA, does.

Dingle: That’s almost going back to what Ron Brown did when he was in the Clinton administration as Secretary of Commerce, having trade missions, making it inclusive with small and minority businesses, so that they can really access those international opportunities and start building relationships. Is that the model you’re talking about?

Wade: It is the model and Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, certainly, I think elevated this model to historic dimension in really advocating in pushing for this type of exchange and that’s exactly what we’re set out to do.

Dingle: I think the — it sounds like the big piece of outreach is making sure that minority businesses know that they can go to Commerce, access resources, so that they can take advantage of opportunities that may not even be on their screen.

Wade: Correct, that’s right. And that’s what this is all about. Listen, the bottom line is minority businesses are critical to America’s economy and certainly to our recovery. When you look at the fact that there are over 4 million minority companies who contribute, based on recent census data, $661 billion, that’s significant. The more that we can work with minority companies to create jobs, to create wealth, to innovate, to expand, to grow, to prosper, to contribute to America’s prosperity and we fundamentally believe that and we’re excited about what the future holds.

Dingle: Thank you, very much, Rick.

Wade: Thank you, as always.

Further Reading:

Mission Prosperity
Transcript: Q&A With Commerce Secretary Locke
– Transcript: Q&A With MBDA National Director President David Hinson

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  • http://tcenow.com Francina Harrison

    I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Rick Wade at the 2009 Virginia Black Expo (in Virginia Beach) and witnessed his powerful address….and further had the opportunity to hear him in a closed session.  I know the Economic Forum will produce not only powerful conversations…but hopefully a serious call to action…and evaluation steps.  Thank you BE for keeping it REAL and keeping us informed.  My next steps…let’s see how I can get on those invitation ONLY lists :) .