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US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to Meet With Arab and Muslim-American Communities in Michigan

Washington, D.C. | Monday October 5, 2009 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is proud to partner with the US Department of Commerce in addressing issues pertaining to economic development, trade and the US Census.  As part of this initiative, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will meet with Arab and Muslim-American community leaders in Dearborn, Michigan, tomorrow to announce the Commerce Department’s strategy to expand opportunity for small business owners and continued dialogue with the Arab and Muslim American communities.  Secretary Locke will also address questions from leaders about the upcoming Census 2010, as well as discuss obstacles facing small business owners, particularly in Michigan.  This will be the first time a US Secretary of Commerce addresses the Arab and Muslim American community since the late Secretary Ron Brown during the Clinton Administration.

On the same day, Census regional representatives, including the Philadelphia Regional Director Mr. Fernando E. Armstrong, as well as representatives from the US Department of Commerce will visit the ADC National Office in Washington, D.C. to discuss the 2010 Census.  ADC is a 2010 Census National Partner and serves on the Census Advisory Committee.  ADC encourages the Arab-American community to participate in the upcoming Census, despite the fact that there will be no statistics tabulated about the Arab-American community in the 2010 Census.  ADC is working with the Census Bureau and the US Department of Commerce to ensure that the 2020 Census provide statistics and data about the Arab-American community.

ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “The Arab-American community, particularly in Michigan, is a vital component of our nation’s economic recovery efforts.  Our community’s history in business success and leadership is well-documented.  That’s why ADC is delighted to work with Secretary Locke and his staff at the Department of Commerce in coordinating the Michigan visit and in complementing the work of our partners on Census 2010.”

Imad Hamad, Regional Director & Senior National Advisor said "ADC is proud to partner with the Department of Commerce and we look forward to an open dialogue with the Secretary as we all do our part in helping turn the economy around."

In its work with the US Department of Commerce, and in preparation for Secretary Locke’s visit to Michigan, ADC has provided a memorandum on some of the key community challenges associated with the Department and recommendations to address those challenges.  They include:

  • Census 2010/2020– As a 2010 Census National partner ADC expressed disappointment over the fact that the Census Bureau has decided to use a short form in the upcoming Census, thus eliminating the national origin question.  However this has not stopped ADC and the Arab- American community from engaging with Census and encouraging participation.  ADC will continue to strongly advocate for inclusion of the Arab-American community in the Census.  ADC has opened dialogue and discussion with the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau about the 2020 Census.
  • Access to Capital– Arab-American business and community leaders routinely express concern over the lack of capital available to small business owners.  During the meeting with Secretary Locke, community members will share stories and experiences of submitting applications for loans but ultimately being denied on a number of occasions.  ADC encourages the Department of Commerce to make small business loans readily available to community members.
  • Travel– Many community members who are required to travel because of their business express serious concerns with border policies.  Many business professionals are avoiding traveling because of the hassle of flying.   This is resulting in a decrease of business and commerce within the Arab and Muslim American community.  ADC urges the Department of Commerce to coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agencies to ensure that border policies do not negatively impact business opportunities.
  • Small Business Owners Fear of Freezing of Funds/Assets– Although this is a Department of Treasury issue, many business owners are shying away from engaging in international business and trade because of the fear of having their bank accounts/assets frozen.  This is directly affecting commerce within the United States.  ADC urges for strong dialogue and a working relationship between the Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce in addressing this issue.
  • Access to the Department- ADC is appreciative of the Department of Commerce’s efforts.  However it is the broader relationship between the Department and the community that is in need of growth.  The Department of Commerce must ensure that the Arab-American community has equal access to services by continuing a dialogue with community and business leaders nationally and not just in Michigan

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NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.
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Contact: ADC Media Department, media@adc.org