MEDA holds 42nd annual recognition luncheon
By Greg Hugh, staff writer
More than 500 guests recently attended a luncheon by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association to recognize its 2013 Award Honorees. Serving as the emcee for the luncheon was Fox 9 News reporter, Maury Glover, wih opening comments by Anthony Heredia, past MEDA board chair, who passed the gavel to Douglas Eden, current MEDA board chair. MEDA Executive Director Yvonne Cheung Ho along with Steve Weitz, MEDA board member commented about the past year and then began the awards presentation.
Award winners are . . .
· Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame - Andy Wells, Wells Technology
· Mentor of the Year - Best Buy
· Volunteer of the Year - Adam Nathe, Gray Plant Mooty
· Community Partner of the Year - Spedco
· Corporation of the Year - Medtronic, and
· Charles W. Poe Entrepreneur of the Year- Tashitaa Tufaa, Metropolitan Transportation Network, Inc.
According to Cheung Ho and material published in MEDA’s 2012 Annual Report, MEDA has, since its founding in 1971, confronted racial and economic disparities by helping entrepreneurs of color start and grow bu
sinesses. It is further noted that as Minnesota becomes more diverse, ongoing racial disparities in our state are mirrored in the business community where economic disparities are becoming increasingly evident. Forbes magazine reported in March 2011that the Minneapolis-St. Paul Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked 49th out of 52 areas in the United States in the promotion of minority entrepreneurship, which essentially earned Minnesota the distinction of being last in entrepreneurship.
The mission of MEDA is helping entrepreneurs of color succeed and communities grow by offering economic development services in three areas: business expertise, financing and corporate and government market opportunities. It assists businesses of all sizes, industries and types of ownership. However, its primary focus is helping minority-owned businesses scale their companies, creating employment within the community.
As stated in its 2012 annual report, MEDA assisted 1,740 businesses last year with contracts awarded totaling more than $1 billion, creating more than 9,300 jobs.
Clients served in 2012 were 1 percent Caucasian, 12 percent Hispanic American, 9 percent Native American, 23 percent Asian American and 54 percent African American. Although MEDA does not maintain separate records for the various minority classes within each of these categories, Cheung Ho acknowledged Chinese did not make up a significant percentage of the Asian American group served, and this may be attributed to a number of factors.
Cheung Ho, a native of Hong Kong who joined MEDA in 1988 as director of Business Development and became president and CEO in 1993, feels that Chinese Americans fail to take advantage of the services offered by MEDA primarily because of their cultural background. Chinese were one of the earliest minorities to immigrate to the United States and they appear to have chosen to insulate themselves from many mainstream programs that have evolved to serve the immigrant population. They also choose to maintain a low profile and seek solutions to their problems within their own families or community. There also may be a mentality that makes it difficult for the Chinese to accept advice and be transparent about their business matters. The lack of mutual trust makes it more difficult for Chinese Americans to participate in programs that would benefit them.
While Cheung Ho acknowledges that this may be a simple overgeneralization, many Chinese Americans have worked successfully with MEDA and have received guidance to be successful in their professional businesses, including medicine, engineering, research and development, contracting and consulting along with a number of other professional enterprises. She further noted that perhaps MEDA could do a better job in outreach to the Chinese American community to better inform them of the services available.
Visit www.meda.net to learn more about MEDA .