Armed with the theme “Entrepreneurial Strategies for the 21st Century,” the second annual BLACK ENTERPRISE/NationsBank Entrepreneurs Conference is poised to once again be one of the biggest events of the year for black business owners. Close to 1,000 entrepreneurs and other business people are expected to attend this year’s event, which will be held May 7-11 at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The event will boast dynamic sessions and workshops headed by the nation’s top experts on networking, securing capital, money management, globalization and technology. In addition to stimulating discussions and a black tie gala celebrating the 25th anniversary of the BE 100s, the event will also include the second annual BE Small Business Awards dinner. African American entrepreneurs will be honored in four categories: Emerging Company of the Year, Business Innovator of the Year, Rising Star Award and Kidpreneur Award. Here’s a look at this year’s nominees.
Emerging Company of the Year: This award recognizes businesses that are poised for future growth because they’ve carved out a well-hidden niche for themselves and have adopted creative marketing techniques.
Best Domestic Services Agency Inc.: Operating with a database of more than 5,000 domestic help professionals, Best Domestic provides child care service for such clients as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Lynn Whitfield 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Established in 1993 by, Maurice Wingate, Best Domestic is the largest agency of its kind in the U.S., generating $750,000 in revenues last year.
Cultural Exchange Entertainment Corp./Cultural Toys: Jacob Miles wanted to create toys that were safe, educational and self-reflective, thus the nation’s first African American-owned full-line toy company was created in 1993. The firm manufactures multicultural dolls, educational toys and animated videos for infants and preschoolers. The products are sold in major toy chains including Kay Bee Toys and Toys ‘R’ Us. Sales for the Minneapolis-based company exceeded $675,000 last year.
Michele Foods Inc.: Using a family recipe, Michele Hoskins has built a $5.5 million company that manufactures and markets premium syrups. Formed in 1984, the firm distributes syrups to about 6,000 retail stores, supermarkets and restaurants nationwide including Denny’s, Walmart and Food Lion.
Business Innovator of the Year:
This award honors companies that have successfully set trends and broken new ground in a particular industry.
Cabana Car Wash: Cabana Car Wash is an innovative full-service car wash that offers more than just a hot wax and sealer. The brainchild of Effie Booker and Dr. Jean Morency, Cabana also boasts a lube facility and detailing center. But what makes this car wash unique is the atmosphere. A visit to Cabana is like taking a trip to the Caribbean. Outside are palm trees and inside, there’s floral patio seating beneath huge umbrellas. While your car gets the royal treatment, attendants dressed in tropical uniforms serve yogurt as Caribbean music wafts overhead. Established in 1994, Cabana generated $875,000 in revenues in 1996.
Laracris Corp.: President & CEO Carol Columbus-Green has given new meaning to the word “girdle,” with her intimate apparel line