By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

In a kick off event designed to showcase the upcoming MEDWeek conference, the Black Professional News publisher, Earl Harvey, in conjunction with the Enterprise Center, brought together some of the key individuals and organizations who have been instrumental in assisting aspiring Black entrepreneurs in realizing their goal of business ownership and success.The event, which was held Wednesday, September 25, was a prelude of the many options and opportunities available to those in the greater Philadelphia region, who are aspiring business owners, wannabe business owners, or those struggling to expand and grow their businesses. 

MED Week is in its 30th year of ensuring that Minority Owned Businesses receive their fair share of the economic dollars, having originally started in 1984 in Philadelphia, PA to address the disparities between mainstream, and small Black owned businesses.

After acknowledging some of the networking partners, which included, Dennis Lee, Kim Bodie Girlfriends Connect, Early Bird Networking; Dr. Paul Stiles – Spirit of a Bird Networking
Michelle Snow – Networking Angel; as well as some of the great food vendors,David Simms – Eatable Delights, Butter's Restauran, Chase Catering, and Bernards' Chicken & Waffles
Harvey opened the evenings event with this statement: “We are going back to the old school – doing business face to face – as opposed to social media. Social media is okay for the youth. They open their phones and say “Look, I have 4000 friends.” And I say,
“You got 4,000 friends – you better not need a kidney – on Facebook – you might find you don't have any. So we're trying to re-establish good old fashioned face-to-face communication. Here's my card; here's what I do; how can I help you? And more importantly, how can you help me?”

Earl Harvey's enthusiasm and passion for Black owned businesses is unmistakable, and contagious:  "Caterers and food servers are all Black owned. I don't just talk it, I walk it. All the food services in the house are Black owned tonight.  Supporting Black owned businesses is critical. Everybody is getting bailed out but the Black owned businesses. Banks are getting bailed out; insurance is getting bailed out; investment companies are getting bailed out; automakers are getting bailed out. Nobody is bailing us out but us. So let's be clear about that. As you go through your daily routines, be very cognizant of who you have in your Black business network. Is your doctor Black? Or a person of color? Your dentist, your attorneys, your CPAs. I know most of us go to beauty parlors and barber shops – that's fine; and funeral parlors that we know in the hood as well. But there are cleaners and all kinds of technical support people; people who repair computers. Be very aware of how you spend your dollars, because you have the discretion to spend your dollars where you want to spend them. And for those of us who don't qualify for government contracts, or big business, we rely on little businesses to keep ourselves going. And every time you spend a dollar in a Black owned business, it circulates throughout the community, because they employ people from the neighborhoods that other people don't. And our business communities are loaded with people who don't look like us and they don't hire people from the neighborhood. It's their business, and they can do what they want to do; but we have the choice as to whether we want to support that business or not with our consumer dollars. If they're not representing us the way we want them to, we can become owners, or we can go someplace else. So we are asking you, when you make your conscious consumer decision, that you consider finding businesses with people who look like you. Sometime that may be a little hard to find; you may have to do a little bit more work, go a little bit out of your neighborhood to find them; but the important thing is to support your own businesses; or those businesses that are supporting our communities as well. That's very important.”

Earl Harvey continued: “We're in a very interesting time in America. The economists are saying that the recession is over for three years now. I didn't get that memo. I've been looking for that email! While some portions of our consumer market are thriving right now; and the people who have money are making more money, the gap between those who have money and those who don't is growing ever wider. So we have to be aware that while they're saying good times are here, and the recession's over, we look around our communities that have been decimated by unemployment, businesses closing, still high crime, and we're asking where's our lifeline, and when does the recession end for us?

Philadelphia Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Planning Committee: Since 1983, the U.S. President has proclaimed a National MED (Minority Enterprise Development) Week observance to recognize the outstanding achievements of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and to honor those corporations and financial institutions that support minority business development. Annual regional conferences and activities are organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) in collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Government Contracting and Business Development.

The MED Week celebration was started locally in Philadelphia in 1984 to honor and promote minority owned businesses in the Philadelphia area. The organizers of the first Med Week activities were Barbara Daniel Cox, former Director of Mayor Wilson Goode's Womens Commission and Bilal Abdul Qayyum, Assistant to the Deputy Director of the City Commerce Department. This event was a three day event with three workshops, concluding with an award luncheon honoring minority owned businesses. Each year since the first celebration, the MED Week Celebration has grown to a full week of successful workshops and award luncheons with an ever growing number of sponsors to promote the great accomplishments of minority owned businesses.

The Philadelphia MED Week Committee consists of corporations, local colleges and universities, local and regional government agencies and minority business owners that are committed to supporting opportunities for minority businesses.

Earl Harvey, Publisher of the Black Professional News, stated: "I think we're permanently in a recession, quiet as it's kept. I read recently that the average woman owned business makes about $25,000 to 30,000 a year. That means that those who have their own small businesses, or micro businesses, are making enough money to probably sustain themselves; but they're not making enough to hire anybody. And job creation is critical when you talk about entrepeneurship and small business development. How are we growing our businesses to scale – to the point that we can not only earn more money, but hire other people? There are a lot of people out here who do lend money, we just need to learn how to develop access to capital, and how to put ourselves in positions to borrow money. We also have people here who can help you get your credit together so that you can borrow money. It is a process; they're not giving the money away. They are loaning the money at different rates, and through different processes. So it's not as intense as going into a bank."

Angela Dowd-Burton, Executive Director of the City of Philadelphia's Office of Economic Opportunity: “The Philadelphia MED Week is a celebration of those with entrepreneurial spirits who have dedicated their lives to building businesses and putting people to work, and contributing to the economic eco systems of our region. 2014 is the 30th anniversary of MEDWeek and we celebrate the business owners who have stood the test of time as well as the entrepreneurs who are just beginning. The Philadelphia region has an abundance of advocates to give technical support, ancillary resources, and access to contracts to help you succeed. Mayor Michael Nutter and his team, City Council President Darryl Clark and his team, Councilman Oh, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, all of whom were instrumental in making this even happen. Drexel University, Goldman Sachs, Market Place Philadelphia, Philadelphia Convention Center, U of Penn, Septa, Barnes Foundation, among others. Co-sponsors of MEDWeek include the African American Chamber; the Asian American Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber of commerce, National Urban League, they are the leadership team of over twenty sponsors who stand for you and your success." 
The Mayor's Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) reported that for FY 2013, minority/women/disabled owned (MWBDE) businesses were awarded $244 million in city business contracts, which represented 28% city and public contracts.  Thus far, in FY 2014 MWBDE's have won $255 million in city business. According to Angela Dowd-Burton, the certified businesses is currently 2,260, and increase from 2,175 in FY 2013. Such a small increase in less than 100 certifications indicates a need to do more in recruiting and assisting minority businesses in their quest to do business with the city and the increasing numbers of construction and other businesses now coming into the Philadelphia region.

Mayor Nutter has set a goal of 30 percent MWBDE's participation in upcoming contracts and business opportunities, during the next fiscal year, which began July 1. It is hoped that the upcoming MEDWeek activities will be the catalyst to increasing significantly the numbers of qualified certified Black owned businesses receiving lucrative contracts, technical assistance, micro-loans and other assistance necessary to participate in this upcoming boom. 

In early March of this year, Goldman Sachs announced an initial $15 million investment in Philly-based small businesses, with $10 million for loans and $5 million for a business-education program at Comminity College of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), under current president John Grady, has, thus far, provided $4 million in loans to thirteen local businesses. The biz-education program typically includes 100 hours of study over a period of twelve weeks. The target audience is small businesses with at least four employees; revenues of $150,000 over the past year; in existence and fully operating for at least two years; and located in Philadelphia. They have graduated 110 small business owners so far. 
In a city, where the majority population of African Americans is 68%, the number of Black owned Businesses is relatively small, according to Dowd-Burton and Harvey. In the OEO 2013 Annual Report, it shows that there aren't enough Black Owned business trying out for certification, or applying for the funds that are available to help them grow and sustain their businesses. Over $200 million in contract opportunities are missed as a result. MED Week is an attempt to make these opportunities available. Workshops will be held in convenient locations over the next week, free of charge, in hopes that they will attract those who have, heretofore, not taken advantage of these options.
For more information, visit http://www.phila.gov/commerce, or call 215-683-2057.

Below is an excerpt from the article on MED Week appearing in the Tribune:

Minority Enterprise Development marks 30th anniversary

Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2014 11:45 am Ayana Jones Tribune Staff Writer |  

The 30th anniversary of Philadelphia Minority Enterprise Development Week (Sept. 28-Oct. 4) will focus on the growth of minority-owned businesses.  This year’s MED Week will kick off Sunday with an event at City Hall, and run through next Saturday in venues around the city. This year’s theme is “Breakthrough: Growth Through Innovation.” The week-long celebration features free technical assistance workshops and supplier diversity events with universities, nonprofits, for-profit and government agencies.

Festivities begin Monday from 8 a.m. to noon with an honors and awards program at Conversation Hall in City Hall. The program will feature a panel discussion with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Scholars.

For a schedule of MED Week events visit its website or call (215) 683-2057. The event was started in 1984 to honor and promote minority-owned businesses in the Philadelphia area.

MED Week is chaired by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Commerce Department, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Minority Business Development Agency.

The 2014 MED Week celebration marks a major milestone for the minority business community,” said Angela Dowd-Burton, executive director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. “In the future, I hope business owners reflect on 2014 as the year they began to fully appreciate the power of knowledge, networking and navigating the business process. Their collaboration and commitment to excellence is the key to building the capacity that will be required in the expanding public, private and nonprofit sectors.”

While progress has been made, organizers said continuous efforts are needed around minority business development.

A recent study released by ENGAGE, a student-run think tank at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed factors contributing to Philadelphia’s poverty rate. The study indicated that a shift in growing industries required more highly skilled, college-educated workers, not characteristic of many Philadelphia minorities. Because of this and other factors, “necessity entrepreneurs” were created. Today, these businesses account for more than 70 percent of the small businesses in the region and are considered non-employers, who do not hire.

This is one of the major initiatives that the African American Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders (are) looking into changing in the coming year,” said Shalimar Thomas, executive director of the Chamber. “Through fact-based research, we want to identify factors that contribute to this and start taking appropriate steps to change non-employers, to employers. Especially since we believe some of the jobs in these industries may be able to employ low-skilled or technically trained employees.”
MED Week organizers are seeking to connect minority-owned firms with contracts.
Our economy is experiencing rapid growth. Buildings are being erected and renovated, healthcare is expanding, our financial system is stable and the stock market indexes are at all-time highs,” said James Sanders, senior director of the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center Pennsylvania. “Philly is ranked third in construction growth across the U.S.A. Hospitality and tourism on the rise, along with the expansion of bridges, highways, ports, rail system, and airport. I encourage minority enterprises and others to connect and do business by attending the 30th anniversary of Philadelphia MED Week.”

Varsovia Fernandez, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, noted that there are more than 3.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. which will contribute a combined $468 billion to the American economy this year.

With the Hispanic population growing faster than any other market segment in the Philadelphia region, as well as being a highly entrepreneurial segment, the impact that Hispanic and minority-owned businesses contribute to our economy cannot be understated. The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce proudly encourages all business owners and stakeholders to join us for MED Week and enjoy the opportunity to network and benefit from the highly beneficial week of business events,” Fernandez said.  ###

Again, kudos to the Black Professional News for keeping what's important before the eyes and ears of Philadelphia.  Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank YOU For Visiting Gloria Dulan-Wilson Eclectic Black People VIP Blog. We Would Like Your Views, Interests And Perspectives. Please Leave A Comment Below.