The University of Texas-Pan American and the South Texas Minority Business Opportunity Committee (MBOC) welcomed Ronald Langston, national director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Department of Commerce, to campus Aug. 2.
Johnny Cisneros, director of the South Texas MBOC, said the purpose of Langston's three-day visit was to observe what the South Texas MBOC was doing to help minority-owned businesses gain access to capital and access to new markets, which he said was the primary focus of the 41 business development units across the country under the MBDA.
"What the agency tries to do is create an environment for these companies to succeed or compete with other larger corporations," he said.
Cisneros said that the South Texas MBOC is a part of the University's Office of Center Operations and Community Services (CoSERVE) and often partners with other CoSERVE entities in providing support for South Texas entrepreneurs.
"The South Texas MBOC is the only MBOC in the State of Texas as well as the only one in the Dallas region, which stretches from the border to Canada," Cisneros said.
In welcoming Langston, Robert Cantu, chair of the South Texas MBOC, said many of the small, minority owned businesses in this region are faced with specific challenges such as limited exposure to information on government contracting, international trade and contracting with large corporations and need a support network.
"The South Texas MBOC strives to be the premier advocate for small minority-owned businesses in our region. Since 2003, the South Texas MBOC has helped businesses obtain more than $14 million in contracts in both domestic and international trade. Additionally, these companies have received more than $6 million in working capital and loans as a result of our hard work," he said.
Appointed in 2001, Langston is the first individual to officially hold the title of "national director" and is credited with taking the MBDA from an administrative agency to an entrepreneurial organization.
"I work for two gentlemen who are Texans (President George W. Bush and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Donald Evans) who believe in you and support you," he said, noting Evans had high praise for UTPA. Evans was a former UT System Board of Regents Chair.
Langston said he was here to continue the agency's relationship with the community to promote business enterprise. He said according to the IRS, for every 1,000 people in the U.S. population, 78 on average, are in business. For the majority community the number in business is 91 per 1,000, for the Asian community it is 90 per 1,000, for the Native American community it is 85 per 1,000, for Hispanics it is 41 per 1,000 and for African Americans it is 24 per 1,000.
"I am not going to be satisfied until I see the level of business participation rate particularly among Hispanics and African Americans rival those of the majority and Asian communities. We really have no option. We must be economic stakeholders. Minority business entrepreneurs must grow," he said.
In order for businesses to be successful, Langston said they need to have knowledge about financial literacy and to reach out to financial advisers, accountants and lawyers that can help them to manage and to create successful business plans.
"Too many small businesses are trying to do everything - they're trying to drive the truck, package, deliver and that's not always a formula for success. Also, of the 3.3 million minority businesses that we have registered now, 81 percent of those businesses have gross receipts of less than $100,000, which means they are pretty much micro-businesses. We really want to grow medium to large-size businesses because they have a higher rate of survival," he said.
Other participants in the reception ceremony were Bret Mann, executive director of the Office of Center Operations and Community Services (CoSERVE); John F. Iglehart, MBDA Dallas regional director; and Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, who presented Langston a framed proclamation of commendation from the City of Edinburg. Sponsors for the reception included Wells Fargo Bank, Lone Star Bank and Villeda Law Office.
For additional information on the South Texas MBOC, contact Cisneros at 956/292-7555 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org