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Renewing the American Dream: Hispanic-Owned Businesses, An Engine of Job Creation and Exports

Alejandra Castillo, the National Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce, reflects on Hispanic Heritage Month and the impact minority-owned, and particularly Hispanic-owned, small businesses can have on our nation's economic growth.

Alejandra Castillo

Minority-owned businesses, including Hispanic-owned businesses, are the backbone of our nation’s economy and an engine of job creation and exports.  Hispanic and other minority-owned businesses have been growing at a much faster pace and creating millions of jobs for Americans. 

Most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that there are 6 million minority-owned businesses, of which more than 2 million are Hispanic owned.  Although employment declined by 1 percent among non-minority-owned businesses between 2002 and 2007, it has continued to grow at a faster pace among minority- and Hispanic-owned firms -- by 24 percent in a wide variety of industry sectors, and gross receipts increased by 55 and 58 percent for minority- and Hispanic-owned firms respectively during that same period.

While we are living in challenging economic times and too many Americans are experiencing unacceptably long periods of unemployment, particularly among Hispanics and African Americans, minority- and Hispanic-owned businesses are at the center of our nation’s economic expansion. 

To ensure the continued success of minority- and Hispanic-owned business in the current economic environment, the President has laid out an aggressive job plan to expand businesses and create jobs across America.  In the President’s American Jobs Act, the proposed payroll tax cuts and extension of unemployment insurance will have a direct benefit for  millions of minority- and Hispanic-owned business owners, workers and the unemployed.  The President’s plan also includes administrative, regulatory and legislative measures to help businesses expand in size and scale, including the more than 2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the nation.

Moreover, to expand the nation’s export base and seize the opportunities of a global marketplace, the President set an ambitious goal to double America’s exports in five years under the National Export Initiative, and minority-owned businesses—particularly Hispanic-owned businesses—are leading the way.

Minority-owned firms often share language commonalities, cultural affinity, and connections to other countries, making them natural exporters. In fact, minority- and Hispanic-owned businesses are twice as likely to export compared to non-minority-owned firms among firms with 20 percent or more of their sales generated by exports.

Minority- and Hispanic-owned business export activity spans the world including the fast growing markets of Brazil, China, India, and Colombia to name just a few.   Minority and Hispanic-owned firms are leading the nation in establishing footholds in these markets as well as providing America with a competitive advantage in an increasingly global economy.

As the daughter of a minority business owner, I have both a personal and professional commitment to ensure that minority-owned businesses continue to grow and thrive.  At the ground level the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the strategic business partner for the millions of U.S. minority- and Hispanic-owned businesses.  MBDA provides strategic business consulting, access to capital, contracts and markets to minority-owned firms seeking to expand their businesses domestically and overseas.  And our efforts have been incredibly successful.

Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, MBDA has connected minority-owned firms with $7 billion in contracts and capital, creating over 11,000 new jobs. 

 MBDA is continually setting greater goals and seeking out innovative vehicles for minority business growth by partnering with private and public sector institutions.

In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of the minority and Hispanic business community, MBDA and the U.S. Small Business Administration are hosting the 29th Annual National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference, September 27-30 in Washington, D.C.  The conference offers training to access capital effectively and to expand into global markets, as well as industry specific workshops and a session on mergers and acquisitions.  I invite you to register for the MED Week Conference at There is still time to join us.

I also encourage you to visit MBDA’s website, to learn more about the programs that are helping thousands of minority and Hispanic-owned businesses grow.  We would also like to hear from you about how we can best support your business growth through our Facebook page at And download a fact sheet on the explosive growth of Hispanic-owned businesses visit.

We know the best way to create jobs is through expanded private business ownership and individual entrepreneurship. With the President’s strong economic plan and the support of agencies like MBDA and many other partners, minority- and Hispanic-owned businesses will continue to grow and contribute to our nation’s economic expansion in the global marketplace. 

  Alejandra Castillo is the National Deputy Director of the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce.