The speakers make up an all-star cast of experts, from Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to the senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisors. The gathering bears the title, "Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth," sponsored and created by the White House initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Amjad Huda, the co-founder and CEO of an early stage startup called Sun Hydrogen in Fremont, says he's never had access like this before to learn about government services and programs that could help his clean energy venture. He says normally he would have to hire a consultant to get access to these officials and the advice and insight they can provide. It's an expense he says he can't afford at this stage.
"There are so many programs out there, and if you really don't know the right person in the department, you don't have the right connections, you really kind of get lost," he said. Silicon Valley has a long history of innovation and startups owned or headed by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, such as Marvell and Monster Cable. San Jose City Council member Ash Kalra says he sees the entrepreneurs attending Friday's gathering representing a new wave of technology growth in the Valley that will create thousands of new jobs.
"I definitely think this is going to help spur a continuing wave and more energized wave of entrepreneurship in the Asian American community. Asian Americans have been in many ways the backbone of entrepreneurship in this Valley," he said.
The summit is acknowledgment that Asian Americans have and will continue to play a vital role in revitalizing the economy. Secretary Locke, along with Elizabeth Echols, Region 9 administration of the Small Business Administration, point out that Asian Americans employ two million people and generate $300 billion in revenue.
"It's the idea that we can push the boundaries, that we can create new products, business models, services and generate opportunities that we never thought possible. We're going to need to do that to turn the corner of the economy," Ronnie Chatterji from the Council of Economic Advisors said.
In an exclusive TV interview, Secretary Locke told ABC7 News that the Commerce Dept. will make a major push to help small businesses to find export markets for their goods and services. Locke said that there is great growth opportunity for export. He said that many companies export solely to one country.
"The more that companies export, the more they produce. The more they produce, the more people they hire. And we have so many programs at the Dept. of Commerce for free that will find buyers and customers for Made in USA goods and services," he said.