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Notice

Solicitation of Applications for the Cleveland and Queens Minority Business Enterprise Centers

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Minority Business Development Agency, Commerce.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) originally published a Federal Register notice on July 26, 2006 soliciting competitive applications for operators of the Cleveland Minority Business Enterprise Center (Cleveland MBEC) and the Queens Minority Business Enterprise Center (Queens MBEC) under its Minority Business Enterprise Center program. However, due to the lack of responsive applications, the Cleveland MBEC and the Queens MBEC competitions were deemed unsuccessful by MBDA. In accordance with 15 U.S.C. 1512 and Executive Order 11625, this notice re-solicits competitive applications for operators of the Cleveland MBEC and the Queens MBEC. This notice supersedes in its entirety the original competitive solicitation notice for these two projects. Responsibility for ensuring that applications are complete and received by MBDA on time is the sole responsibility of the Applicant. Applications that do not meet the requirements of this notice will be rejected.

DATES:

The closing date for receipt of applications is March 5, 2007. Completed applications must be received by MBDA no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at the address below for paper submission or at http://www.Grants.gov for electronic submission. The due date and time is the same for electronic submissions as it is for paper submissions. The date that applications will be deemed to have been submitted electronically shall be the date and time received at Grants.gov. Applicants should save and print the proof of submission they receive from Grants.gov. Applications received after the closing date will not be considered. Anticipated time for processing is sixty (60) days from the date of publication of this notice. MBDA anticipates that awards for the Cleveland MBEC and for the Queens MBEC will be made with a start date of May 1, 2007.

Pre-Application Conference: In connection with this solicitation, a pre-application teleconference will be held on February 16, 2007. Conference participants must register at least 24 hours in advance of the event. Please visit the MBDA Minority Business Internet Portal at http://www.mbda.gov (MBDA Portal) for registration instructions. Additionally, a summary of the questions and answers from the pre-application conference will be available through the MBDA Portal as soon as practicable following the conference.

ADDRESSES:

(1a) Paper Submission—If Mailed: If the application is mailed/shipped overnight by the applicant or its representative, one (1) signed original plus two (2) copies of the application must be submitted. Completed application packages must be mailed to: Office of Business Development—MBEC Program, Office of Executive Secretariat, HCHB, Room 5063, Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230.

U.S. Department of Commerce delivery policies for Federal Express, UPS, and DHL overnight services require the packages to be sent to the address above.

(1b) Paper Submission—If Hand-Delivered: If the application is hand-delivered by the applicant or his/her representative, one (1) signed original plus two (2) copies of the application must be delivered to: U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency, Office of Business Development—MBEC Program (extension 1940), HCHB, Room 1874, Entrance #10, 15th Street, NW., Washington, DC. (Between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues).

U.S. Department of Commerce “hand-delivery” policies state that Federal Express, UPS, and DHL overnight services submitted to the address listed above (Entrance #10) cannot be accepted. These policies should be taken into consideration when utilizing their services. MBDA will not accept applications that are submitted by the deadline but rejected due to Departmental hand-delivery policies. The applicant must adhere to these policies in order for his/her application to receive consideration for award.

(2) Electronic Submission: Applicants are encouraged to submit their proposal electronically at http://www.Grants.gov. Electronic submissions should be made in accordance with the instructions available at Grants.gov (see http://www.grants.gov/​ForApplicants for Start Printed Page 5011detailed information). MBDA strongly recommends that applicants not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process through Grants.gov.

Paper applications and Standard Forms may be obtained by contacting the MBDA National Enterprise Center (NEC) for the area where the Applicant is located (see Agency Contacts below) or by visiting the MBDA Portal at http://www.mbda.gov. Standard Forms 424, 424A, 424B can also be obtained at http://www.Grants.gov. Forms CD-511 and CD-346 may be obtained at http://www.doc.gov/​forms. Form SF-LLL can be obtained at http://www.whitehouse.gov/​omb/​grants.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Agency Contacts

1. Office of Business Development, 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 5073, Washington DC 20230. Contact: Efrain Gonzalez, Program Manager at 202-482-1940.

2. Chicago National Enterprise Center (CNEC) is located at 55 E. Monroe Street, Suite 1406, Chicago, IL 60603. This region covers the states of Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri. Contact: Eric Dobyne, Regional Director, CNEC at 312-353-0182.

3. New York National Enterprise Center (NYNEC) is located at 26 Federal Plaza, Room 3720, New York, NY 10278. This region covers the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and District of Columbia. Contact: Heyward Davenport, Regional Director, NYNEC at 212-264-3262.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background: The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) published a Federal Register notice on July 26, 2006 (71 FR 42351) soliciting competitive applications for operators of the Cleveland MBEC and the Queens MBEC under its Minority Business Enterprise Center program. However, due to the lack of responsive applications, the Cleveland MBEC and the Queens MBEC competitions were deemed unsuccessful by MBDA. On December 22, 2006, MBDA published a Federal Notice (71 FR 76981) allowing for up to a 120-day funded extension (on a non-competitive basis) of the current award for the Queens MBEC to allow for continued program delivery by the incumbent operator while MBDA completes the solicitation process for an operator of the Queens MBEC for the next award period. The Cleveland MBEC is a new project without an incumbent operator and therefore a similar extension was not necessary for this project. In accordance with 15 U.S.C. 1512 and Executive Order 11625, this notice re-solicits competitive applications for the Cleveland MBEC and for the Queens MBEC. This notice supersedes in its entirety the original competitive solicitation notice for these projects.

Geographic Service Areas: The MBEC will provide services in the following geographic areas:

MBEC nameLocation of MBECGeographic service area
Cleveland MBECCleveland, OHState of Ohio.
Queens MBECJamaica, NYNew York Counties of: Queens, Nassau and Suffolk.

Electronic Access: A link to the full text of the Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) for this solicitation may be accessed at http://www.Grants.gov, at http://www.mbda.gov, or by contacting the appropriate MBDA representative identified above. The FFO contains a full and complete description of the MBEC Program requirements. In order to receive proper consideration, applicants must comply with all information and requirements contained in the FFO. Applicants will be able to access, download and submit electronic grant applications for the MBEC Program in this announcement at http://www.Grants.gov. MBDA strongly recommends that applicants not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process through Grants.gov. The date that applications will be deemed to have been submitted electronically shall be the date and time received at Grants.gov. Applicants should save and print the proof of submission they receive from Grants.gov. Applications received after the closing date and time will not be considered.

Funding Priorities: Preference may be given during the selection process to applications that address the following MBDA funding priorities:

(a) Applicants who submit proposals that include work activities that exceed the minimum work requirements for this program as set forth in the FFO;

(b) Applicants who submit proposals that include performance goals that exceed the minimum performance goal requirements for this program as set forth in the FFO;

(c) Applicants who demonstrate an exceptional ability to identify and work towards the elimination of barriers, which limit the access of minority businesses to markets and capital;

(d) Applicants who demonstrate an exceptional ability to identify and work with minority businesses seeking to obtain large-scale contracts and/or insertion into supply chains with institutional customers; and

(e) Applicants that utilize fee for service models and those that demonstrate an exceptional ability to charge and collect fees from clients.

Funding Availability: The total award period under this competitive solicitation shall not exceed two (2) years and eight (8) months. MBDA anticipates a total of approximately $333,033 will be available in FY 2007 for Federal assistance to the Cleveland MBEC and to the Queens MBEC, and that a total of approximately $499,550 will be available for Federal assistance to these MBECs in FY 2008 and in FY 2009, respectively. Specific funding levels for the Cleveland MBEC and for the Queens MBEC are set forth in the below table. Applicants are hereby given notice that funds have not yet been appropriated for this program. Accordingly, MBDA issues this notice subject to the appropriations made available under the current continuing resolution, H.R. 5631, “Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007,” Public Law 109-289, as amended by H.J. Res. 100, Public Law 109-369 and H.J. Res. 102, Public Law 109-383. In no event will MBDA or the Department of Commerce be responsible for proposal preparation costs if this program fails to receive funding or is cancelled because of other agency priorities.

Projects will be funded for no more than eight (8) months during the first funding period (expected to run May 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007) and one year at a time thereafter (January 1, 200x through December 31, 200x). Applicants must submit project plans and budgets for each of the three funding periods. Project proposals accepted for funding will not compete Start Printed Page 5012for funding in subsequent budget periods within the approved award period. Second and third year funding will depend upon the MBEC achieving a minimal “Satisfactory” performance rating by the award recipient in each preceding year. Recommendations for second year funding are evaluated based on a “Satisfactory” mid-year performance rating (e.g., May 1-August 31) and/or a combination of mid-year and year-to date (e.g., May 1-November 30) “Satisfactory” performance rating. Recommendations for third year funding are evaluated based on a “Satisfactory” mid-year performance rating (i.e., January 1-June 30) and/or combination of mid-year and cumulative third quarter (i.e., January 1-September 30) “Satisfactory” performance rating. Failure to achieve a “Satisfactory” performance rating may be cause for project termination. All funding periods are subject to the availability of funds to support the continuation of the project, as well as to Department of Commerce and MBDA priorities. Publication of this notice does not obligate the Department of Commerce or MBDA to award any specific cooperative agreement or to obligate all or any part of available funds.

The maximum Federal funding amounts for each project year are shown below (MBDA requires award recipients to provide a minimum twenty percent (20%) non-federal cost share):

Project nameMay 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009
Total cost ($)Federal share ($)Non-Federal share ($) (20% min.)Total cost ($)Federal share ($)Non-Federal share ($) (20% min.)Total cost ($)Federal share ($)Non-Federal share ($) (20% min.)
Cleveland MBEC194,000155,20038,800291,000232,80058,200291,000232,80058,200
Queens MBEC222,389177,83344,555333,583266,75066,833333,583266,75066,833
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Authority: Executive Order 11625 and 15 U.S.C. 1512.

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Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA): 11.800, Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC) Program.

Eligibility: For-profit entities (including sole-proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations), non-profit organizations, state and local government entities, American Indian Tribes, and educational institutions are eligible to operate MBECs. Applicants receiving three (3) consecutive funding award cycles (beginning 2007 through 2015) will not be eligible to receive an award in 2016 (and thereafter).

Program Description: MBDA is soliciting applications from organizations to operate a Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC) (formerly a Minority Business Development Center). The MBEC Program requires MBEC staff to provide standardized business assistance services to minority firms with $500,000 or more in annual revenues and/or “rapid-growth potential” minority businesses (“Strategic Growth Initiative or “SGI” firms) directly; to develop a network of strategic partnerships; and to provide strategic business consulting. This is a fee for service program, therefore, the MBEC is required to charge client fees. These requirements will be used to generate increased results with respect to financing and contracts awarded to minority-owned firms and are a key component of this program.

The MBEC Program will concentrate on serving SGI firms capable of generating significant employment and long-term economic growth. The MBEC program shall continue to leverage telecommunications technology, including the Internet, and a variety of online/computer-based resources to dramatically increase the level of service that the MBEC can provide to minority-owned firms. The MBEC program incorporates an entrepreneurial approach to building market stability and improving the quality of services delivered. This strategy expands the reach of the MBEC by requiring project operators to develop and build upon strategic alliances with public and private sector partners, as a means of serving SGI firms within the project's geographic service area. In addition, MBDA will establish specialized business consulting training programs to support the MBEC client assistance services. These MBEC training programs are designed specifically to foster growth assistance to its clients. The MBEC will also encourage increased collaboration and client/non-client referrals among the MBDA-sponsored networks. This will provide a comprehensive approach to serving the emerging sector of the minority business community.

The MBEC will operate through the use of trained professional business consultants who will assist minority entrepreneurs through direct client engagements. Entrepreneurs eligible for assistance under the MBEC Program are African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish-speaking Americans, Aleuts, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, Asian Indians, Native Americans, Eskimos and Hasidic Jews. As part of its strategy for continuous improvement, the MBEC shall expand its delivery capacity to all minority firms (as defined in the FFO), with greater emphasis on SGI firms capable of impacting economic growth and employment. MBDA wants to ensure that MBEC clients are receiving a consistent level of service throughout its funded network. To this end, MBDA will require MBEC consultants to attend training course(s) designed to achieve standardized services and quality expectations. Please refer to the FFO for additional programmatic information.

Match Requirements: MBDA requires award recipients to provide a minimum twenty percent (20%) non-federal cost share for each of the three program years. Cost sharing is the portion of the project cost not borne by the Federal Government. Applicants must meet this requirement in (1) cash contributions; (2) non-cash applicant contributions; or (3) third party in-kind contributions. Bonus points will be awarded for cost sharing exceeding 20 percent that is applied on the following scale: more than 20%-less than 25%—1 point; 25% or more-less than 30%—2 points; 30% or more-less than 35%—3 points; 35% or more-less than 40%—4 points; and, 40% or more—5 points. Applicants must provide a detailed explanation of how the cost-sharing requirement will be met. The MBEC must charge client fees for services rendered. Client fees shall be used towards meeting cost share requirements. Client fees applied directly to the award's cost sharing requirement must be used in furtherance of the program objectives.

Evaluation Criteria: Applications will be evaluated and selected for funding based on the following criteria. An application must receive at least 70% of the total points available for each evaluation criterion, in order for the Start Printed Page 5013application to be considered for funding. The maximum number of total points for each evaluation criterion is provided below. The number of points assigned to each evaluation criterion will be determined on a competitive basis by the MBDA review panel based on the quality of the application with respect to each criterion. The maximum total of points that can be earned is 105 including bonus points for related non-federal cost sharing, except when oral presentations are made by applicants. If oral presentations are made (see paragraph 5 below), the maximum total of points that can be earned is 115.

1. Applicant Capability (40 points). The applicant's proposal will be evaluated with respect to the applicant firm's experience and expertise in providing the work requirements listed. Specifically, the proposals will be evaluated as follows:

  • MBE Community—experience in and knowledge of the minority business sector and strategies for enhancing its growth and expansion; particular emphasis shall be on expanding SGI firms (4 points);
  • Business Consulting—experience in and knowledge of business consulting of SGI firms (5 points);
  • Financing—experience in and knowledge of the preparation and formulation of successful financial transactions (5 points);
  • Procurements and Contracting—experience in and knowledge of the public and private sector contracting opportunities for minority businesses, as well as demonstrated expertise in assisting MBEs into supply chains (5 points);
  • Financing Networks—resources and professional relationships within the corporate, banking and investment community that may be beneficial to minority-owned firms (5 points);
  • Establishment of a Self-Sustainable Service Model—summary plan to establish a self-sustainable model for continued services to the MBE community beyond the MBDA funding cycle (3 points);
  • MBE Advocacy—experience and expertise in advocating on behalf of minority businesses, both as to specific transactions in which a minority business seeks to engage, and as to broad market advocacy for the benefit of the minority community at large (3 points); and
  • Key Staff—assessment of the qualifications, experience and proposed role of staff who will operate the MBEC. In particular, an assessment will be made to determine whether proposed key staff possesses the expertise in utilizing information systems and the ability to successfully deliver services (10 points).

2. Resources (20 points). The applicant's proposal will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Resources—discuss those resources (not included as part of the cost-sharing arrangement) that will be used, including (but not limited to) existing prior and/or current data lists that will serve in fostering immediate success for the MBEC (8 points);
  • Location—Applicant must indicate if it shall establish a location for the Center that is separate and apart from any existing offices in the geographic service area (2 points);
  • Partners—discuss how you plan to establish and maintain the network of five (5) Strategic Partners and how these partners will support the MBEC to meet its performance objectives (5 points); and
  • Equipment—discuss how you plan to accomplish the computer hardware and software requirements (5 points).

3. Techniques and Methodologies (20 points). The applicant's proposal will be evaluated as follows:

  • Performance Measures—relate each performance measure to the financial, information and market resources available in the geographic service area to the applicant (including existing client list) and how the goals will be met (marketing plan). Specific attention should be placed on matching performance outcomes (as described under “Geographic Service Areas and Performance Goals” of the FFO) with client service (billable) hours. The applicant should consider existing market conditions and its strategy to achieve the goal (10 points);
  • Plan of Action—provide specific detail on how the applicant will start operations. The MBEC shall have thirty (30) days to become fully operational after an award is made. Fully operational means that all staff are hired, all signs are up, all items of furniture and equipment are in place and operational, all necessary forms are developed (e.g., client engagement letters, other standard correspondence, etc.), and the center is ready to open its doors to the public (5 points); and
  • Work Requirement Execution Plan—The applicant will be evaluated on how effectively and efficiently all staff time will be used to achieve the work requirements (5 points).

4. Proposed Budget and Supporting Budget Narrative (20 points). The applicant's proposal will be evaluated on the following sub-criteria:

  • Reasonableness, allowability and allocability of costs. All of the proposed expenditures must be discussed and the budget line item narrative must match the proposed budget. Fringe benefits and other percentage item calculations must match the proposed line item on the budget. (5 points);
  • Proposed cost sharing of 20% is required. The non-Federal share must be adequately documented, including how client fees will be used to meet the cost-share (5 points); and
  • Performance Based Budget. Discuss how the budget is related to the accomplishment of the work requirements and the performance measures. Provide a budget narrative that clearly shows the connections (10 points). Proposals with cost sharing which exceeds 20% will be awarded bonus points on the following scale: More than 20%-less than 25%—1 point; 25% or more-less than 30%—2 points; 30% or more-less than 35%—3 points; 35% or more-less than 40%—4 points; and 40% or more—5 points.

5. Oral Presentation—Optional (10 points). Oral presentations are held only when determined by MBDA. When the merit review by the panel results in applications scoring 70% or more of the available points for each criterion, MBDA may request all those applicants to develop and provide an oral presentation. This presentation will be used to establish a final evaluation and rating.

The applicant's presentation will be evaluated on the following sub-criteria:

(a) The extent to which the presentation demonstrates how the applicant will effectively and efficiently assist MBDA in the accomplishment of its mission (2 points);

(b) The extent to which the presentation demonstrates business operating priorities designed to manage a successful MBEC (2 points);

(c) The extent to which the presentation demonstrates a management philosophy that achieves an effective balance between micromanagement and complete autonomy for its Project Director (2 points);

(d) The extent to which the presentation demonstrates robust search criteria for the identification of a Project Director (1 point);

(e) The extent to which the presentation demonstrates effective employee recruitment and retention policies and procedures (1 point); and,

(f) The extent to which the presentation demonstrates a competitive and innovative approach to exceeding performance requirements (2 points).

Review and Selection Process

1. Initial Screening. Prior to the formal paneling process, each Start Printed Page 5014application will receive an initial screening to ensure that all required forms, signatures and documentation are present.

2. Panel Review. Each application will receive an independent, objective review by a panel qualified to evaluate the applications submitted. MBDA anticipates that the review panel will be made up of at least three independent reviewers (all Federal employees) who will review all applications based on the above evaluation criteria. Each reviewer will evaluate and provide a score for each proposal. In order for an application to be considered for funding, it shall need to achieve 70% of the available points for each criterion. Failure to achieve these results will automatically deem the application as unsuccessful.

3. Oral Presentation—Optional. When the merit review by the panel results in applications scoring 70% or more of the available points for each criterion, MBDA may request all those applicants to develop and provide an oral presentation. The applicants may receive up to 10 additional points based on the presentation and content presented. If a formal presentation is requested, the applicants will receive a formal communication (via standard mail, e-mail or fax) from MBDA indicating the time and date for the presentation. In-person presentations are not mandatory but are encouraged; telephonic presentations are acceptable. Applicants will be asked to submit a power point presentation (or equivalent) to MBDA that addresses the oral presentation criteria (see above, Evaluation Criteria, item 5. Oral Presentation—Optional). This presentation must be submitted at least 24 hours before the scheduled date and time of the presentation. The presentation will be made to the National Director (or his/her designee) and/or up to three senior MBDA staff who did not serve on the merit evaluation panel. The oral panel members may ask follow-up questions after the presentation. MBDA will provide the teleconference dial-in number and pass code. Each finalist will present to MBDA staff only; other applicants are not permitted to listen (and/or watch). The oral panel members shall score each presentation in accordance with the oral presentation criteria. An average score shall be compiled and added to the original score of the panel review.

All costs pertaining to this presentation shall be borne by the applicant. MBEC award funds may not be used as a reimbursement for this presentation. MBDA will not accept any requests or petitions for reimbursement.

4. Final Recommendation. The National Director of MBDA makes the final recommendation to the Department of Commerce Grants Officer regarding the funding of applications, taking into account the selection criteria as outlined in this Announcement and the following:

(a) The evaluations and rankings of the independent review panel and the evaluation(s) of the oral presentations, if applicable;

(b) Funding priorities. The National Director (or his/her designee) reserves the right to conduct a site visit (subject to the availability of funding) to applicant organizations receiving at least 70% of the total points available for each evaluation criterion, in order to make a better assessment of the organization's capability to achieve the funding priorities; and

(c)The availability of funding.

Intergovernmental Review: Applications under this program are not subject to Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.”

Limitation of Liability: Applicants are hereby given notice that funds have not yet been appropriated for this program. Accordingly, MBDA issues this notice subject to the appropriations made available under the current continuing resolution, H.R. 5631, “Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007,” Public Law 109-289, as amended by H.J. Res. 100, Public Law 109-369 and H.J. Res. 102, Public Law 109-383. In no event will the Department of Commerce or MBDA be responsible for proposal preparation costs if this program fails to receive funding or is cancelled because of other agency priorities. Publication of this announcement does not oblige the Department of Commerce or MBDA to award any specific project or to obligate any available funds.

Universal Identifier: Applicants should be aware that they will be required to provide a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering system (DUNS) number during the application process. See the June 27, 2003 Federal Register notice (68 FR 38402) for additional information. Organizations can receive a DUNS number at no cost by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS Number request line at 1-866-705-5711 or by accessing the Grants.gov Web site at http://www.Grants.gov.

Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements: The Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements contained in the Federal Register notice of December 30, 2004 (69 FR 78389) are applicable to this solicitation.

Paperwork Reduction Act: This document contains collection-of-information requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The use of standard forms 424, 424A, 424B, SF-LLL, and CD-346 have been approved by OMB under the respective control numbers 0348-0043, 0348-0044, 0348-0040, 0348-0046, and 0605-0001. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection displays a currently valid OMB control Number.

Executive Order 12866: This notice has been determined to be not significant for purposes of E.O. 12866.

Administrative Procedure Act/Regulatory Flexibility Act: Prior notice for an opportunity for public comment is not required by the Administrative Procedure Act for rules concerning public property, loans, grants, benefits and contracts (5 U.S.C. 533(a)(2)). Because notice and opportunity for comment are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 533 or any other law, the analytical requirements of the regulatory flexibility Act (5 U.S.C 601 et seq.) are inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and has not been prepared.

Start Signature

Dated: January 29, 2007.

Ronald N. Langston,

National Director, Minority Business Development Agency.

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[FR Doc. E7-1808 Filed 2-1-07; 8:45 am]

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