A New Venue For Seeking Capital

The EBF sets the pace for new economy companies

Judging by the attendance at the first annual Emerging Business Forum (EBF), held in Chantilly, Fairfax County, Virginia, from July 11-13, 2001, you may want to insert the conference into your PDA as an agenda item for business marketing and networking in year 2002.

The first-ever three-day conference aimed at helping African American and other minority technology-based businesses was a welcomed success for more than 400 eager attendees who wanted to gain exposure for their enterprises, press flesh with venture capitalists, and begin or renew relationships with potential purchasers of their products or serv-ices. The theme for the conference was “Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers.”

James W. Dyke Jr., chairman of the EBF and a partner at the law firm of McGuireWoods L.L.P., in McLean, Virginia, said, “The forum exceeded our wildest expectations with respect to the number of attendees at the first annual conference. We accomplished our goals of building relationships between entrepreneurs and potential funding sources for their ventures and setting in place a post-forum process that will allow small-business owners the opportunity to have an advisor/advisee relationship with a large mentor firm.”

Conference attendees had ample opportunity to build bridges and break barriers in the plenary sessions. “I left the forum with a wealth of information, tremendous networking opportunities, and new acquaintances to begin building relationships,” says Gwen J. Culbreth, president and CEO of A Wise Enterprise Inc., a software development firm in Centerville, Virginia.

Conference topics ranged from the Executive Advisor Program, designed as a one-year structured arrangement between senior executives and entrepreneurs; Identifying, Preparing and Acquiring Capital, an overview of funding sources and the requirements of obtaining it, and Profile of Leadership, discussed and presented by such notables as Darrell Green of the Washington Redskins and president of Sports Venture Partners.

Dr. Gerald Gordon, vice chairman of the forum and president and CEO of the Fairfax County, Virginia, Economic Development Authority, says, “Our county has become the new melting pot for business men and women from all backgrounds. It is the place for businesses to grow and thrive. We’re unabashedly proud of being home to so many successful minority firms and we’re looking for many more.”

BLACK ENTERPRISE was one of the many sponsors of the event and its Chairman and Publisher, Earl G. Graves, served as keynote speaker at the dinner gala. Graves spoke of the importance of minority small businesses to the economy and the urgent need for gatherings such as the Emerging Business Forum.

The EBF will host its second conference next fall. Robin Fenner, program director, says that they are in the planning stages but the forum will once again focus on IT and other technologies.

Contact Fenner at rfenner@fceda.org for additional information.

“Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers” was the theme of this year’s Emerging Business Forum held in Virginia.

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