Q&A: Commerce Department's Rick Wade - Black Enterprise

Q&A: Commerce Department’s Rick Wade

Rick Wade
Black Enterprise Editor-In-Chief Derek T. Dingle sits down with the Department of Commerce’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor Rick Wade in an exclusive interview during MED Week in Washington D.C.

Derek T. Dingle: Rick, thanks for joining us. In your role as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser, how do you impact minority business?

Rick Wade: Well, I’m one of the Secretary’s top advisers and challenged with the responsibility of helping to advance President Obama’s vision, his plan for minority businesses across America. So on the one end of it, advising him on policy that takes us on outreach strategies that help us, make minority businesses more aware of opportunities to procurement. Establishing business-to-business relationships. Just creating an environment where minority companies can be more competitive, not just domestically, but also abroad.

Dingle: A large part of that I would imagine deals with the RecoveryAct?

Wade: Yes.

Dingle: How do you make sure that minority businesses gain access to the contracts? We’ve gotten feedback that there is a great deal of frustration in terms of accessing these contracts. How do you play a role in making sure that they get the contracts so that they can grow their businesses?

Wade: Let me first say, Derek, that this as a major priority of the administration. You may be aware that the president has designated Vice President Biden to oversee the implementation of the Recovery Act. He has made minority and small business participation a huge priority and designated Secretary of Commerce Locke and I to help shepherd that process.

So there are a number of things that we’re doing. One, throughout minority business development centers across the country, through the Small Business Administration centers, probably 2000, all the centers are engaged in outreach at the local level, hosting webinars and seminars, technical assistance they are providing to minority business owners. We are using online strategies where businesses can come to our website and get a listing to be able to see where the opportunities are. The fact is that navigating the government bureaucracy can be daunting and a challenging process, so what we’re trying to do is to break and unbundle this Recovery Act and make it more user-friendly, pushing that information out to minority companies and providing the technical assistance that they need to be able to submit successful applications, complete and hopefully will be announcing some big wins.