DENNARD: Minority Business Agency Is Another Example Of Trump Putting America First


Paris Dennard Contributor
Font Size:

Economic growth and development were the bedrock President Trump’s campaign in 2016. Given his business background, it’s no surprise that he looks at the workings of government like the workings of a major global corporation.

It’s also not surprising to see a small and sometimes overlooked agency gain a lot of attention inside Trump’s administration. And if any agency encapsulates Trump’s agenda to make America great again, it’s the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA reported facilitating $4.6 billion in contracts and capital to minority business enterprises in 2018 alone, helping to either create or retain more than 19,000 American jobs.

On March 5, MBDA celebrates 50 years as a federal agency. When President Nixon created the organization in 1969, he did so with a very impressive group of minority business leaders and organizations. One was a mentor to me: Robert J. Brown, a special assistant to the president.

In a recent interview, Brown said MBDA “revolutionized how society thought about minority enterprise, but some people don’t think that’s important. Regional offices that we opened to make sure minorities and women got a chance to get government contracts were closed under President Obama.”

The work he did behind the scenes as a black Republican influencer and kingmaker have been evident in the growth and success of MBDA. The agency has thrived most under Republican presidencies. Even the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Harry C. Alford, called the Obama administration the worst in history for minority business development.

Some 50 years later, I wonder if many of those same organizations would stand with President Trump given his impressive record of economic achievement for minorities in America.

Admittedly, it took some strong advocacy and education for some in the White House to fully understand the impact MBDA has to offer. While I am sure the OMB bureaucrat who thought it made sense to do away with it was well-intentioned, they were still wrong. MBDA was on the chopping block in the first budget mainly because of a mindset that it was duplicative.

However, the MBDA team kept its head down, regrouped, and worked to show its value and mission alignment with the vision President Trump has for the economic growth and development of our country, especially for those living in fragile communities. Luckily, the then-GOP-controlled Congress, which had long worked and authorized funding for MBDA, funded it again.

Under the leadership of MBDA National Director Henry Childs II, the agency is living up to its 50-year-old mission in new and innovative ways. It’s focused even more on data and accountability. President Trump rightfully envisions a thriving economy working for every community and citizen regardless of the color of their skin or five-digit zip code. The goal alignment between MBDA and the White House has been seen in their support of Opportunity Zones, Associate Health plans, and the new National Council for the American Worker.

Late last year, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced MBDA had awarded more than $13 million to support 35 projects — including $2 million to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and $1 million to support minority women entrepreneurs. He knows they are the fastest growing set of entrepreneurs in America.

When you hear President Trump talk about the economy, historically low minority unemployment, the economy reaching a 3-percent growth rate for the first time in a decade, and the dignity of work, it is because he truly believes that economic opportunities can serve as a catalyst for  change — especially in minority communities. MBDA is an example of making government work better, and it’s one of the many reasons for the booming Trump economy.

Paris Dennard (@ParisDennard) is a member of President Trump’s Commission on White House Fellows. He worked previously as director of black outreach in the George W. Bush White House.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.