Minority Businesses Export to Support Jobs in Long Island

June 25, 2012

Francisco Sánchez is the Under Secretary for International Trade

Washington can be a sweltering place in the summer. And this year is no exception. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to escape the heat of Washington today for Long Island, New York. There, I joined forces with my friend and colleague Congressman Tim Bishop to help highlight the benefits of exports and the impact they have in strengthening the economy.

Under Secretary Sanchez (center), Congressman Tim Bishop (right) and Shakir Farsakh, director of the Long Island Export Assistance Center (left) during a roundtable event highlighting minority-business exporting in Long Island, NY (Photo Commerce)

Under Secretary Sanchez (center), Congressman Tim Bishop (right) and Shakir Farsakh, director of the Long Island Export Assistance Center (left) during a roundtable event highlighting minority-business exporting in Long Island, NY (Photo Commerce)

We’ve always known exports to be among best ways to boost domestic economic output.  Just last year, the United States had a record-setting $2.1 trillion in exports which supported nearly 10 million American jobs.

Rather, the question has always been “how can we expand the message of exporting to more businesses?”

This was the challenge laid forth by President Obama in 2010 when he announced the National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

Well, the data is in!  One of the great things about our country is our diversity. And according to the U.S.  Census Bureau, that same diversity is boosting our economy. A report released this month, using data from 2007, shows that exports by minority-owned American businesses make significant contributions to our economy.

Minority-owned exporting companies have always fascinated me. According to the report, “exports accounted for 14.4 percent of total receipts of minority-owned exporters compared with 5.4 percent of total receipts for nonminority owned exporters” in 2007. That’s nearly three times higher!  Couple this with the fact that “exports accounted for a larger percentage of the receipts of minority-owned exporters than nonminority-owned exporters” and you begin to understand the value of this demographic.

And here at the Department of Commerce, we are doing everything in our power to continue this momentum, not just for minority-owned companies, but for all American businesses that wish to explore new markets abroad. And with 95% of the world’s potential customers living outside our borders, who can blame them?

To many, New York City is a center for innovation and business, a commercial powerhouse with a tremendous diversity of strong businesses. However, many fail to realize the economic potential of its neighbor, the iconic Long Island. The commercial innovation and contributions of this area deserve more attention.

This was the purpose of my trip to Long Island – to let businesses there know we are here to support them and have resources on hand to help them succeed in the export business.

The Long Island office of the U.S.  Export Assistance Center has tracked nearly a million dollars in export sales alone as a result of their assistance. And I hope many more businesses will tap into our expertise.

Like New York City, Long Island is home to a population with diverse backgrounds, and its businesses are no different. Several hundred high-technology companies have their headquarters in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Even better, these are industries with high export potential. Sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, and avionics are pillars in the local economy, accounting for well more than half of all export sales from the region. These are just a few of the reasons I chose to come to Long Island.

My day there began with a roundtable for minority business leaders in Farmingville where the Congressman and I heard about some of the challenges facing the local business community. It’s heartening to hear directly from the hard-working and dedicated men and women. I was able to explain many of the resources the Department of Commerce has to offer. If you are interested, I urge you to visit the export.gov website to see everything we have to offer.

We followed the roundtable with a business forum, “Expanding Your Business Through Exporting.”  There, representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, and the local U.S.  Export Assistance Center joined us in our remarks.

Following the forum, we departed on a tour of local manufacturing company ENECON, an industry leader in the design, production, and export of advanced polymers. Manufacturing continues to be a bright spot in the nation’s economy; and exports of manufactured goods have increased 9.1 percent year-to-date through April. ENECON is a true paragon in this regard, successfully exporting their products to nations all around the world.

In 2010, the New York-New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area was the largest export market in the United States, with merchandise shipments totaling $85.1 billion. The companies I met today represent important contributors to this accomplishment.

Minority-owned business and manufacturing are both close to my heart and it’s a personal goal of mine to ensure they have all the tools they need at their disposal.

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