Department of Defense Spokesman Eric Pahon provided the following readout: 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Jesse Salazar met with members of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and unaffiliated Hispanic small business owners to discuss the importance of Hispanic-owned businesses in increasing the capabilities of the Department through a more agile and diverse small business base.

Powered by a fifth of the U.S. population, Hispanic-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of the small business ecosystem. Deputy Secretary Hicks said the Department of Defense would like to harness that energy to improve supply chain resilience. 

This engagement continues the dialogue DoD jumpstarted earlier this year, which added engagement with Hispanic-owned small businesses into regular industry engagement practices.

Last year, the Department awarded a record $83 billion dollars to small businesses through prime contracts, and $30 billion dollars to small disadvantaged businesses.

Deputy Secretary Hicks acknowledged the challenges small businesses can face when working with the Department as well as the challenges presented by COVID-19. She also emphasized the Department sees small businesses as critical to innovation.

Deputy Secretary Hicks thanked business leaders and the communities represented by USHCC and LULAC for their dedicated work to provide the Department of Defense with essential products and services which ensure our service members have every possible advantage.

This is the second senior-level stakeholder engagement the Department has hosted for Small Disadvantaged Business Owners (SDB) in support of Biden-⁠Harris Administration all-of-government efforts to expand contracting opportunities for underserved small businesses across the country. As President Biden said on June 1 when he set a goal of increasing the share of contracts to SDBs by 50% over the next five years, increasing federal spending with these businesses will help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

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