Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 24, 2012

In a ceremony today at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative to the regional body, announced U.S. support for the launch of the “Caribbean Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)” expansion project, an initiative to promote the development of competitive, productive, and innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Western Hemisphere.

The project will create a network of sustainable and successful small business assistance networks in Saint Lucia, Dominica, Belize, Jamaica, and Barbados. The newly created network of Caribbean small business development centers will eventually be linked with similar existing programs located throughout the United States, Mexico, Colombia, and Central America to share best practices, and to promote cooperation and support productivity and sustainable economic growth.

Ambassador Lomellin announced a U.S. grant of $960,000 to fund the launch of the initiative, underscoring that SMEs are “the engine of growth in the Americas” and that “equipping SMESs with the tools they need to gain access to and compete in the global marketplace is a priority throughout the region.”

The SBDC expansion project will be implemented in partnership with the OAS, the Caribbean Export Development Agency, and the U.S. Association of Small Business Development Centers network at the University of Texas, San Antonio. The University of Texas has worked extensively to provide the U.S. small business sector greater access to SBDC partners and to expand markets and trade opportunities throughout the Americas.