Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Isabel Benemelis
For Immediate Release:November 17, 2003
Secretary Norton Discusses Partnership
Opportunities with Latin Business Association

(WASHINGTON) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today met with leaders of The Latin Business Association to discuss partnership opportunities, environmentally responsible energy development on public lands, and the Colorado River Water Delivery Agreement.

"We need to get the word out that Interior's doors are open for business and employment to all sectors of America, especially to small businesses that create more then 60 percent of new jobs annually," Norton told the group during a morning meeting in Los Angeles.

"The Association's board members have accepted my invitation to co-sponsor a contracting and procurement workshop in 2004 for small businesses," Norton said. "With more than 50,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in California, this workshop should be of great interest."

Interior bought nearly a quarter of a billion dollars worth of goods and services in California last year. Small businesses received about 46 percent of those procurement contracts.

Norton also asked the board to join a consumer-business-government coalition that is being established to inform Americans about the nation's energy needs. Interior's Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson is working to build this coalition.

"California businesses know first hand the devastating impacts that spiking energy costs can have on the bottom line," Norton said. "No group of Americans can better speak to the loss of jobs that occurs when energy production does not meet demand."

Norton also told the board that the Colorado water agreement she recently signed will allow for billions of gallons of water to be transferred to California's urban and coastal communities during the next 75 years. "By reallocating the state's share, the state can now provide residents of these communities the ability to grow and prosper," Norton said.

Established in 1976, the Latin Business Association, which has 70,000 members, encourages the growth of Latino-owned businesses by generating opportunities, providing educational workshops, and formulating effective advocacy programs.

In 1998 the Association established a private, non-profit 501© institute which has generated more than $250 million in procurement and $170 million in business loans for Latino entrepreneurs.

The nation's largest Latino business entity, the Association represents a diverse cross-section of industries, such as attorney and accounting services, software development, film production studios, international distributors, construction and designers.


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