The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) is deeply saddened by the loss of the Honorable Marion Barry, Jr. The former mayor and councilman has left an indelible mark on the District's residents and business community. The 1967 formation of his organization, Pride Inc., made it possible for more than 1,000 D.C. Black youth to secure jobs, solidifying Barry's pledge to jump start African American economic empowerment and redevelopment in the District.

Barry was a relentless advocate in the fight for fairness and equality for D.C.'s small and minority-owned business community. Under his early leadership, for the first time, the District government redesigned its procurement and contracting process, enabling the City to experience its greatest spike in entrepreneurial growth. Barry's commitment later fueled the mandate of set-asides for minority and women contractors, who historically had been locked out of the opportunity to compete. Barry's leadership further drove the 1980s real estate boom, creating the District's first convention center, now known as the Verizon Center.

The District has indeed lost one of its greatest champions for small business and the economically disenfranchised. The USBC joins the District in mourning his loss, celebrating his life, and above all, saying thank you for his dedication to the Black business community.

Appointment of New MBDA Director Alejandra Castillo

U. S. Black Chambers President Applauds Commerce's Appointment of New MBDA Director
Alejandra Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, announced yesterday that Alejandra Castillo has been officially appointed as the new National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). As the daughter of a Dominican small business owner, and practicing attorney for several years, we are certain she brings the proper business acumen and executive leadership for the position.

"I am pleased that Secretary Pritzker has made the formal decision to appoint Alejandra Castillo as the new National Director of MBDA. It is evident that throughout her professional career, she has been committed to the betterment of minority communities nationwide," said U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), President, Ron Busby, Sr. "We have already began on the right foot, working closely with Alejandra and her office to create tangible economic opportunities for minority businesses across the country. We say congratulations to Alejandra and wish her much success in her new appointed role."

Castillo is the first Hispanic-American woman to lead the MBDA, and only the second woman in MBDA's 45-year history. She first joined the Department of Commerce in 2008 as a Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Association (ITA). Most recently, Castillo served as MBDA's National Deputy Director managing the Agency's day-to-day operations and its national network of more than 44 business centers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. (Alejandra Castillo, Director, Minority Business Development Agency) A native of New York, Ms. Castillo holds a Bachelor Degree of Arts from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in economics and political science. Ms. Castillo holds a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; and also holds a Juris Doctorate Degree from American University - Washington College of Law. In 2010, Hispanic Business Magazine recognized Ms. Castillo among the Top 100 Influential Latino in the U.S. and she received the 2010 Rising Star Award by the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia.


Nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet as SBA Administrator

U. S. Black Chambers President Applauds Presidential Nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet as SBA Administrator

Ron Busby, President of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) applauds President Barack Obama's nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet as the next Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and stresses the importance of a swift confirmation by the U. S. Senate. "I am pleased that the President has made a formal nomination to fill this cabinet-ranking position which is not only key to strengthening the nation's small businesses, but also crucial to the flourishing of the economy as a whole," Busby said in response to the President's Jan. 15 nomination. "The SBA made great strides under the leadership of Karen Mills. We believe Maria Contreras-Sweet, with her strong background as a Minority and Woman small business owner and business banker, would serve to build on that success."

Busby added, "Given the gravity of this moment in which the economy is showing encouraging signs of recovery, we hope the U. S. Senate will render a quick confirmation." Contreras-Sweet is the Founder and Chairwoman of the Board of ProAmérica Bank, a Latino-owned community bank focusing on small business and non-profits in Los Angeles. Before founding ProAmérica Bank in 2006, she was the President and Co-Founder of Fortius Holdings, LLC, a private equity and venture fund specializing in providing California's small businesses with access to capital. In his announcement this week, President Obama described Contreras-Sweet as having a "proven track record of helping small businesses succeed; somebody who had firsthand experience both in the private sector and the public sector who can work with us and work with me to increase growth and expand opportunity." Calling small businesses the "lifeblood of our economy" and the "cornerstones of our communities," which create most of the country's new jobs, President Obama stressed the importance of an Administrator with experience and understanding of the struggles of small business ownership.

The USBC, based in Washington, D.C., is a nationwide association of more than 100 self-sustaining, viable Black Chambers and small business associations. With a goal of economic empowerment, USBC provides these chambers and associations with resources and initiatives in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. Busby said Contreras-Sweet's banking background gives her a unique understanding of increasing the access to capital for Black business owners. Busby also thanked former Deputy Administrator Marie Johns for her consistent commitment to serving the underserved and ensuring that all communities were represented at the table of prosperity. "Her willingness to advocate on our behalf will forever be appreciated." Busby concluded, "I look forward to working closely with Mrs. Contreras-Sweet to develop and implement new and existing SBA programs to help America's 2 million Black-owned businesses continue to grow and prosper."

In the Spirit of Success,
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.