Florida MBDA Export Center won’t settle for simply ‘outstanding’

Members of the M. Gill & Associates team, which operates the Florida MBDA Center, are (l-r) program director Joy Starkey, business assistance consultant Maria A. Zavala, operator/executive director Marie Gill, business assistance consultant Fernando R. Gonzales, and administrative services coordinator Heather Gordon.

In order for a Minority Business Development Agency Program to become a member of the “Century Club,” it must meet 100 percent of the national performance goals — an outstanding feat, indeed.

Not settling for simply “outstanding,” the Florida MBDA Export Center recently soared well past that benchmark for program success, by announcing they hit more than 120 percent of its annual program goals.

“If trumpets weren’t heard blaring in the distance — perhaps they should have been,” said Marie R. Gill, operator/executive director, because, in effect, her MBDA Center basically set an entirely new standard for performance.

Each year, all U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA Centers — whether they are deemed Business Centers, Exports Centers, Manufacturing Centers, or Hurricane Disaster Assistance Programs — are reviewed for adherence to goals and program integrity.

If an MBDA Center doesn’t make its goals, it doesn’t get to continue operating. At the end of the review in August, national auditors revealed that the team at the Miami Center achieved 120.39 percent.

Performance goals, established under cooperative agreement with the MBDA, measure local center performance in serving the different minority segments. The Florida MBDA Export Center provides technical assistance and growth services to generate increased financing, contract opportunities, and greater access to new and global markets for minority business enterprises (MBEs).

National auditors reveal that the Florida MBDA team achieved 120.39 percent.

The center also is designed to help identify, screen, train, promote, and refer MBEs to exporting resources, and to directly source opportunities for their domestic and global growth.

According to Gill, her center needed to register $130 million in contracts for minorities for the year, $40 million in financing, create up to 300 jobs per year, work with 220 businesses — and specifically, with at least 60 new minority firms that make over $1 million in sales.

“We have to provide a related service for our clients, so that we can justify recording that related contract as a performance goal that we met,” she added. “We don’t deal with just ‘satisfactory,’ rather we shoot for above ‘outstanding.’”

Gill said one of the keys to success for her lean team of five staff members is to have effective partners in the local community that are equipped to augment and support, and to make full use of the proprietary resources that the MBDA makes available to Centers in assisting MBEs seeking domestic and international contracts.

Also key to their success has been the excellent relationship the Florida MBDA Center has had with the City of Miami. “Since 2008, the city has been our Export Center’s Cost Share Strategic Partner,” noted Gill. “As such, our Center is housed in a City of Miami building and they provide administrative support, marketing, and outreach services. They even provide referral of small businesses for technical assistance services.”

Disaster Assistance Grant
As a bright star in the MDBA galaxy, the Miami MBDA Center also recently was awarded a grant to operate the MBDA Hurricane Disaster Recovery Program.

Although the Miami office had the contract last year, it had to resubmit a bid along with more than 600 applications across the country — M. Gill & Associates landed the contract handily to continue providing disaster recovery assistance for MBEs in South Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The $500,000 emergency assistance package, which is in effect through Aug. 31, 2019, offers qualifying minority businesses with access to disaster loans, FEMA registration and support services, recovery contracts, and federal procurement training, among several other features.

“Of course, we had to bid for the emergency assistance grant, but we had it before and we performed extremely well,” Gill said. In fact, under her management, the Florida MBDA Disaster Recovery Center’s track record is that they met more than 100 percent of self-imposed goals.

Among the work they conducted last year, operating the program as a supplement to its Export Center, the MBDA Hurricane Disaster Assistance team co-hosted events throughout South Florida, in Puerto Rico, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands to help with the rebuilding process, identified MBEs in those affected areas, and following up on addressing their post hurricane needs.

“And we thank the MBDA for the chance to continue to be there for them,” Gill said.

For information contact the MBDA Hurricane Disaster Assistance Center at admin@miamiMBDAcenter.com or call 786-515-0670.

For information, visit www.MBDAexport.com.


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1 Comment on "Florida MBDA Export Center won’t settle for simply ‘outstanding’"

  1. Congratulation to Marie and her outstanding team!

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