BE, Walmart to Host Economic Forum

BE100s CEOs, government officials to develop policy recommendations for White House

economyAs President Barack Obama unveils initiatives to bolster the middle class, create jobs, and assist small business, Black Enterprise is bringing together BE100s CEOs, government officials, and economists to offer the administration solutions. On Thursday, the conference, 20/20 Vision: A Look Ahead at Black America in the Next Economic Boom, sponsored by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., will specifically address three key issues: education and workforce readiness, small business and innovation, and wealth-building and financial reform with the aim of developing a series of policy recommendations.

“We are bringing together business leaders, government officials, and economists to develop initiatives for short- and long-term job creation, education, economic development, small business innovation, and wealth-building targeted to the African American community,” says Derek T. Dingle, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine.

The forum will feature U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk; director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Melody C. Barnes; Commerce Department Chief of Staff Rick C. Wade; and Walmart SVP, Corporate Affairs Esther Silver-Parker. A series of policy recommendations developed at the day-long event will be presented to the White House, business groups, and civic and non-profit organizations.

“It takes business, government and private citizens all working together in order to solve big problems,” said Walmart’s Silver-Parker. “Walmart is committed to working together and making a valued contribution. That is why we partner with businesses, community leaders and organizations like Black Enterprise to push for positive change in the communities we serve.”

The event comes on the heels of Wednesday’s State of the Union address. With Obama’s approval rating hovering at 57%, and the surprising upset in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts that lost the Democrats the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, the speech is expected to be used to reset the Obama administration’s agenda.

The importance of the forum is underscored by Thomas Boston, CEO of EuQant and a member of the Black Enterprise Board of Economists, who says that while the White House is finally coming around to understanding the importance of small business, “there’s still no direct focus on minority business and African American business.” Assuming opportunities the administration has created for small businesses will trickle down to black-owned firms “is wrong” adds the economic professor, citing a continuous rise in the African American unemployment rate and the difficulty for African-American owned businesses to obtain government contracts.

With regard to the stimulus money, “there should have been–and needs to be now–an emphasis on the disbursement,” says Boston, explaining that states need guidelines in the procurement of contracts, since many that were awarded “shovel-ready” projects by the Department of Transportation have waived the requirements of the disadvantaged business enterprise goal in order to begin  projects sooner.

More than 250 attendees from the world of business, government, media, and education are expected at the invitation-only forum in Washington, D.C.

“It is our intent for these panel discussions on jobs and workforce readiness, small business and innovation, and financial reform and wealth-building to inspire dialogue and debate that can be transformed into plans and action,” says Dingle.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • newcomer12

    ive noticed how there are never comments posted, with such important issues, why is this?

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  • Cyno

    I totally agree that certain funds must be earmarked for small businesses and minority enterprises. Unless this directive comes directly from the White House, local government will continue to give preferencial treatment to their favorite businesses and continue to leave out the small business owner. This directive must come from the White House in no uncertain terms. We can’t afford to have another “Wall Street Fiasco” in the small business community. I commend Black Enterprise and Walmart for partnering this forum and putting this discussion on a national level where the attention needs to be. As a small business owner I thank you.

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  • David S. Cunningham Jr.

    As a member of the Los Angeles City Council years ago I proposed that the federal government should classify minoirity and disadvantage businesses as exempt from Federal, State and Local invome taxes if their annual revenues fell below $2,000,000.00. Additionally, I proposed that in order to increase the ability of such entities to attract and hire topnotch talent they should be relieved from the burden of witholding employee taxes, along with employees who worked for them be exempt from earnings derived from employment with such an entity. They should still be in Social Securitiy .
    I believe this would spur economic growth in disadvanttage communities quickly. I offer it to your conference for discussion and consideration.

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  • B. Carter

    When Obama’s approval rating hovering at 57%, and the upset in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts that lost the Democrats the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, they (politicians) on capital hill wants us to think they are waking up? This pattern is to familiar. These people, campiagn for specific people causes and never prioritize accordingly when they get the job. So, about mid-term, here they come when the water turns cold. They team with Wal-Mart to bring this long past-due (invitation only) initiative on-line? Good Corporate citizen isn’t hardly Wal-Marts middle name, in fact, quite the opposite. This retailer brining the minority mantra? Can someone say ‘Joe-Bob’, because they would be hard-pressed to highlight any high profile minority initiative equal to their ‘Branding Power’. Give us a break, they are community and employee morale busters. Check their track record.

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  • http://www.LRSSTL.com STL Savij

    This is the first time on BE commenting….here is something I would like for us to think, As a small black business owner…www.LRSSTL.com, I am faced with the lack of understanding as to why the Congress and Senate would not have made provisions in the stimulus package for minority businesses. Some of us raise funds for them, we vote for them and they didn’t even represent our intrest.
    So, here is my question to all, how can anyone that is a small business that has questionable credit secure some of the funding that President Obama talked about last night. We supported AIG, Big Three, etc has a questionable credit score used the bailout to pay their bills and was able to payback the funds. If the government can allow small businesses to secure funding then go one step farther to ensure some governement contracts to make sure the company can pay back the funds secured from the SBA with tax credits. I think this is a solution…..Comments

    Also, I have a question from a comment from above,,,Is any Minority Owned Company doing business with Walmart?

    • http://blackenterprise.com Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Walmart has a number of black-owned companies among the suppliers they do business with, including a few Black Enterprise 100s companies. One of them is Chicago-based Broadway Consolidated Cos. http://www.broadwaybcci.com/, a black/female-owned construction firm that has been contracted to build Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Broadway Consolidated President Margaret Garner is among the speakers at today’s Black Enterprise economic forum.

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