BE Forum Explores Solutions for Economic Revival

African Americans, small business key for economic turnaround

Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said that too many students drop out between their first and second years. They leave college with more skills than when they entered but not enough to compete in the workforce. He and Anderson debated the value of community colleges, which Lomax said is a good first step or alternative for students facing financial challenges or adults who must balance work, families and schools.

Americans have for the past year expressed a great deal of outrage over the bailout of Wall Street that has enabled financial institutions to endure and even thrive while communities all along Main Street struggle and in some, particularly those in which African Americans work and live, crumble. Many people are still wondering how it all happened and how to prevent another economic meltdown.

Panelists in a session on wealth-building and financial reform agreed that the blame can be placed all around.
Eugene Profit, president and CEO of Profit Investment Management, said that consumer financial literacy is a big factor. Before taking such risks they have to develop an “understanding what the investment universe is about, what the expectations are and why it should be an investment in the first place.”

Christopher Williams, CEO of Williams Capital Management, a subsidiary of Williams Capital Group LP (No. 2 in taxable securities with $2.1 billion in lead issues on the BE investment banks list), surmised that until some real reforms are put in place, if a similar scenario were to take place again, a bailout remains the only option.

“That’s what bothers me more than anything,” Williams said.

While the federal government continues to grapple for ways to spur both lending and contracting opportunities, it is in the best interest of black entrepreneurs to seek alternative ways to build their businesses.

“At the end of the day, businesses need to grow to size and scale. We have to change how black businesses work together,” advised David Hinson, national director of the Minority Business Development Agency. “If one company is too small to become a prime contractor it needs to consider strategic alliances and joint ventures so they can come together.”

Those that can afford to do so, may want to consider actually buying another small business, and those that can’t should think about being acquired.

Bill Mays, chairman and CEO of Mays Chemical Co. (No. 21 on the BE Industrial/Service Companies list with $208 million in revenues), said that he’s been “very blessed” to have excellent access to capital. More important, Mays is willing to share those blessings with businesses that look like good investments, which he said has made a big difference in their ability to grow.

“There’s a gentleman here who’s interested in supplying me with cleaning materials that he manufactures. If it looks like it makes any sense, I may buy a part of his company so he can have some capital,” Mays shared.

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  • Mr. Chicago

    Thank you Black Enterprise for being a leader on these very important issues. Firs, was Energy, then Economics, please do Information technology next in Chicago!!!

  • Susan Washington

    This looks like a news show. Is Black Enterprise starting their own nightly news show? if yes, I can’t wait. We need our own nightly news show. Black Enterprise News Tonight!!!

  • Mark Hall

    WOW!!!! I attend all the BE events and I didn’t get an invitation to this one. :-( Thanks for the coverage.

  • Karin Gray

    @Mr. Chicago No Education first then IT. We need a discussion on Education!!!

  • Webmaster

    Please post the video or transcripts from what appears to have been an AMAZING event. When is the next one?

  • BlackChrisMatthews

    I want my seat at the table! We need to talk about employment for African American Men! Jobs not Jail!

    • Minister I.J.Baker Let The Black Church Speak

      I was watching your January 31,2010 Program,and you asked a question about President Obama promise and support, to African Americam Population. The panel guest gave some interesting answers. However, to me there was one answer missing,and that was, the financial institutions need get up off sitting on the money, and start lending in the African American community for new and expanding business. This I believe, the President could put pressure on them to do, or else face sanction of closing or federal take over. I welcome your invitation to sit at the table.

  • Minister I.J.Baker Let The Black Church Speak

    I was watching your January 31,2010 Program,and you asked a question about President Obama promise and support, to African Americam Population. The panel guest gave some interesting answers. However, to me there was one answer missing,and that was, the financial institutions need get up off sitting on the money, and start lending in the African American community for new and expanding business. This I believe, the President could put pressure on them to do, or else face sanction of closing or federal take over.

  • Minister I.J.Baker Let The Black Church Speak

    Your forum is very enlighting an to the point, keep up the great work.

  • http://www.resourcekingintl.com Karen L. Bailey

    We’re hosting the State of Black Business: The Minority Report, an interactive conversation between Business owners, professionals, clergy and community leaders regarding the present state of Black Businesses. Where we are now, what challenges and barriers we face, what opportunities exist, and what solutions we can identify. It will be interesting to see how our solutions compare to these outcomes. We’re all working toward common goals and welcome input at info@resourcekingintl.com.

    • K Patrice Williams

      Hi Karen, I just found this old post. My office is located on the west coast; I would love to be connected to any events or forums surrounding business owners that would benefit my clients (micro and small business owners).

      In the last year, many of the business owners that I have acquired as clients have transitioned or outplaced from the traditional workforce to follow their entrepreneurial passions. Their needs are somewhat different than the ‘normal’ business owners as they need more training and regular ongoing support and resources.

      With unemployment and under employment numbers not improving, I think it is especially important that those that choose self employment succeed.

      I want to make sure the voice and needs of these small business owners are especially heard and supported. Anything that I can do to help, please let me know patrice@123targetmarketing.com

  • http://www.resourcekingintl.com Karen L. Bailey

    We’re hosting the State of Black Business: The Minority Report, an interactive conversation between Business owners, professionals, clergy and community leaders regarding the present state of Black Businesses. Where we are now, what challenges and barriers we face, what opportunities exist, and what solutions we can identify. It will be interesting to see how our solutions compare to these outcomes. We’re all working toward common goals and welcome input at info@resourcekingintl.com.

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