Q&A: Commerce Department's Rick Wade - Page 3 of 5

Q&A: Commerce Department’s Rick Wade

Dingle: So how do you facilitate these partnerships? That’s always been a challenge for entrepreneurs to come together in order to access, in order to gain contracts, either on the public level or the private level.

Wade: Well I think one of the things that minority business development agencies across the country have done an incredibly successful job is brokering relationships. For example, if there is a small minority company in Cleveland, Ohio that is manufacturing widgets and doesn’t have a scale and there is a major company, they know and have the market intelligence to know who is doing what and how. They go out and bring those two and together.

Dingle: Is it a matching program?

Wade: It’s a matching program. We have a database that has the specs of all the companies that we work with and we’re able to match them with other potential partners, other potential federal companies that are competing for federal contracts. This is not just within the United States, but we are looking to expand this so that we can also partner and help minority companies compete globally. I just returned from Africa and met with a number of companies there in Africa who want to do business with the United States. So we’re trying to expand even beyond the domestic marketplace and open this up on a global level.

Dingle: As Karen Mills said you’re not emphasizing speed dating, you want e-harmony?

Wade: That’s right.

Dingle: So, in terms of looking at innovation, and I’ve talked to you before, you said that you want to make sure that minority businesses are positioned to take advantage of the redesigned economy.

Wade: Yes.

Dingle: What do minority businesses need to do in order to access the industries of the future?

Wade: There are so many industries of the future and we have to make sure that minority companies are competitive.

Dingle: Let’s say the green economy.

Wade: The green economy is one, I mean that’s a good example. We know that that is the economy of the future and if you’re going to compete and sustain yourself in the future, we have to help them understand what the green economy means. We have to help them transition to use clean technology. We have to help them understand the importance of using technology period, and being more efficient and faster and getting products to market. So there are a lot of tools in the toolbox that we are using to reinvent this economy. And, you know, our challenge as the federal government is to figure out a way how we will get those resources and get that information, to get that knowledge infused into our minority business infrastructure.

However, on the other hand, as I tell minority business leaders all over the country, we need you to do some homework. We need you to do some research. We need you to be aggressive and think about how you position yourself in this new economy of the future.