Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Partners Launch Web Tool For Select Business Owners

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) and the Technology Partnership for Small Business Task Force co-founders — Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems, Inc., and AT&T — under the guidance of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), today launched a new online tool, Biz Tech-Connect.

Biz Tech-Connect is a small-business Web portal that provides free online technology training geared towards women and minority entrepreneurs nationwide. Content, features and links on Biz Tech- Connect provide users with up-to-the-minute business news through Small Business TV (provided by AT&T), free instructional Web-based seminars, video training courses hosted by business experts, and information on managing and growing a small business. Business owners can also submit questions to and receive answers from member companies.

The recommendation for Biz Tech-Connect traces its origin to the Women's Business Enterprise National Council Technology Toolbox pilot and workshop that was funded by the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T, in 2004. This project gave women entrepreneurs easy access to the latest information about how technology can contribute to the success of their businesses.

"There is a significant body of knowledge from the private and public sector that shows an underutilization of technology by small, minority- and women-owned businesses. The Minority Business Development Agency commends ITAA, Microsoft, WBENC, AT&T and the Task Force for their commitment to tackle this opportunity gap," said Ronald Langston, MBDA national director. "Ensuring that women and minority entrepreneurs realize their business success and competitiveness through the effective use of technology is essential to America's economic strength."

Microsoft convened the Task Force, now administered by ITAA, in response to an Urban Institute study that revealed that many women and minority business owners were not maximizing their earning potential by better utilizing technology. The study also projected that the U.S. economy could capture up to $200 billion in additional revenue if technology use increased among minority- and women-owned enterprises.

"Too often, minority- and women-owned businesses have not realized the benefits of the technology boom," said ITAA Vice President for Government Relations, Cindy Jimenez. "ITAA is proud to work with both the public and private sectors to provide women and minority small businesses with market access to technology information and resources so they can stay competitive in today's global economy. We encourage companies across the IT industry to contribute information to aid small businesses' access to technology through Biz Tech Connect."

The Technology Partnership for Small Business Task Force is a first-ever collaboration of an elite group of IT industry leaders, associations representing small, minority and women-owned businesses, and other partners. convened by Microsoft Corp., Cisco, and AT&T to address the underutilization of technology by minority- and women-owned businesses. ITAA is the managing host of the Task Force.

This new tool is an excellent example of several companies and organizations coming together to deliver a tangible, stand-alone Web tool and information center used by a specific target audience. It easily represents what is possible when different companies and organizations come together to share expertise to develop worthwhile programs that benefit our communities. Not all such programs require large company backing, just enough imagination to meet underserved needs.

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