Web resource open for minority businesses

Minority businesses owners looking for a single place to find resources available to them now can log on to the Minority Business Development Agency's World Wide Web-based locator system.

The site (www.mbda.gov) gives minority business owners a list of resources such as banks, Small Business Administration offices, and state and local minority business development centers located in their neighborhood.

Users type in a Zip code or city name, and the system pulls up a list of resources along with a map and directions on how to get to a location.

MBDA, part of the Commerce Department, developed the site with the help of geographic information systems vendor MapQuest.com Inc., which provides the technology that matches the user query with the resource list and map.

This one-stop-shopping Web portal works in conjunction with MBDA's national network, which links its five regional offices and 50 centers located around the country, said Michael O'Hara Garcia, chief information officer at the MBDA, speaking Wednesday at the GovTech conference in Washington, D.C.

For example, the agency maintains a database dubbed Phoenix, which matches contract opportunities with minority businesses. Minority business owners simply register with the database to receive a constant flow of business opportunities to their desktop, Garcia said.

MBDA also relies on a performance reporting model that enables the agency to track information such as how well its business development centers and employees are meeting their goals and assisting their clients. The system represents the first time an agency can measure how well it delivers service to the public on a real-time basis, Garcia said.

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