May 23, 2024

EDA Joins Economic Development Leaders in Observing Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Graphic for EDA Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This month, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) joins economic development leaders across the United States in observing Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month.

AANHPI Heritage Month provides an important opportunity to reflect on the past and present contributions of the United States’ ANNHPI communities to American economic, social, and cultural development. It is also a chance to take stock of the central role AANHPI entrepreneurs, innovators, and economic development leaders play in the country.

Recently, EDA asked a panel drawn from some of our networks’ AANHPI economic development leaders what AANHPI Heritage Month means to them.

Johnny Park (Indiana)

Photo of Johnny Park

“Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities have made significant contributions to economic growth in the United States. From innovative entrepreneurs to influential leaders in technology, finance and business, the diverse talents of AANHPI individuals have greatly enriched our economic fabric. As a proud member of this community, I'm inspired by how the diverse talents and perspectives of our country not only enrich the marketplace but also foster broader economic growth and resilience.”

Dr. Johnny Park is CEO of the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN), an intergovernmental economic development consortium in Indiana. Park joined WHIN from Spensa, a successful AgTech startup he founded that was named one of the “Top 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups of 2017” by Forbes.

Shamik Amin (Illinois)

Photo of Shamik Amin

“For me, AANHPI Heritage Month is always a good time to reflect on the significant contributions the AANHPI community have made to American culture. Whether through historical scientific and technological breakthroughs that improve our quality of life, or through the food, art, and fashion that have become the norm, our heritage has left a mark on society.”

Shamik Amin, P.E. is a civil engineer in the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), where he is responsible for evaluating the merits and technical feasibility of EDA’s infrastructure-related economic development projects in the Midwest.

Megan Hageny (New York)

Photo of Megan Hageny

“As an economic development professional who is half Filipina, I appreciate AANHPI month because it is a salient reminder to address the economic hardships that disproportionately affect our community, especially in terms of the wage gap for AANHPHI women, pandemic-related business closures, and overall public safety concerns in the face of scarily rising hate crimes. This month also provides us the space to celebrate the often overlooked and remarkable historical and current contributions of AANHPI individuals to our country’s economy despite these hardships due to the community’s resilience, resourcefulness, and strength.”

Megan Hageny is an Economic Recovery Corps Fellow. She works with New York’s Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board, where she is responsible for designing and implementing programs for business skills training, business mentoring, and strengthening social capital in rural communities.