No Debate: As Race Heats Up, So Does Business, Networking

From DJs to developers, uniting around the president has business benefits -- again

Lucas — along with Maria Lloyd, Sherea Lloyd, and Rochelle Sinclair — co-founded Eleven Six Twelve, a t-shirt company focused on invigorating the base which helped elect the president. The quartet, miffed by apathy among their peers who vigorously supported the president in 2008, decided to take action with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Obama for America.

“The same people who were super excited in 2008 — people who drove to Pennsylvania to knock on doors, people who spent hours at call banks … this time around were not so interested,” said Lucas. “Most of these people who were not affected by the economy, for whatever reason were just not as excited.”

Lucas knows that the connections she makes from now until Election Day will help her career as an attorney, but hopes they have a more immediate effect: She’s on the board of the The Anew School, a two-year boarding school in Ghana for vulnerable African American boys in the seventh and eighth grade. The school is still in the fundraising stage, but Lucas says that connections, favors and introductions made leading up to November 6 will go a long way toward the goal of opening the school. “These people are still going to be around after the election,” she says.

Debate watch parties can bring in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. JI Group, a nightlife promotional group based in New York will be attended by CNN analyst Roland Martin and former New York Gov. David Paterson, the group says.

“Being involved with Obama events throughout the years, but especially during election years has always been great for business,” says social enterpreneur Elkair Balla, owner of the events company threeKINGS NYC and co-founder of b condoms. “I have started a few ventures and it’s always good for me to meet up with friends, associates and colleagues at these fundraisers to network. Young professionals look to us for upscale social gatherings and political events and we’ve always been natural fit for that arena.”

Benjamin says his experience has shown that there are different audiences for engagement with the political process. For instance, he’s been able to talk to voters about their concerns and interact with Shaun Donovan, U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “Now all of a sudden, not only are you supporting President Obama but your meeting deputies, administrators, regulators, lawyers developers … you’d want to pay to be in that room. The whole chain of your process as a business person can be addressed.”

Meanwhile, Benjamin’s lost count of the amount times he’s met the president. “I think five or six,” he says, warning that the opportunities he’s gotten pale in comparison to one memorable moment.

“For the woman that brought you into this world to get a chance to interact with the president of the United States is the best,” he says of his mother, who arrived in America as an immigrant from Guyana where the opportunities seemed as limitless as they seemed endless in her new country. “And doing all that I’ve done to create that opportunity for her is what I’m most proud of.”

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