In announcing earlier this week that its premier summit for African American entrepreneurs and black businesses will make a return engagement in Charlotte, Black Enterprise President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. told an audience of business owners, corporate leaders, and government officials it has been transformed into a new, tech-driven event under the banner, FWD.
“I can say without hesitation or reservation that last year’s Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit was one of our best ever. In that spirit, I couldn’t be more excited and energized to share with all of you that BLACK ENTERPRISE is returning to The Queen City,” he says. “I am here to tell you that in our 24th year we are bringing to Charlotte a bigger, better, totally revamped Summit. Our event will be the ultimate connection point for more than 1,200 of the nation’s leading and most disruptive entrepreneurs, innovators, creators, and founders of color with a special focus on innovation; specific programming for established firms, startups, and business aspirants; and the intentional facilitation of networking, partnership, financing and the like, all under one roof.” The event will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center from June 19–22, 2019.
Graves emphasized key features of FWD that will differ from last year’s summit, including distinct tracks for startup entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners, respectively; greater tech integration through demos of innovations to make companies more efficient; customized FWD Action Plans specifying next steps for business growth and profitability; and attendee-driven content through pre-event polls and live Q&As to drive real-time conversations and provide vital information that entrepreneurs can access through the event app. Another highlight of this a la carte experience: The “Huddle in the Hub”—the center of everything needed to bolster companies through talks, networking pods, workshops, business coaching, and contract-matching between corporate and government entities and diverse suppliers.
The host sponsor for the past nine years, Nationwide is once again enthusiastically partnering with Black Enterprise. Associate Vice President of Diverse and Cause Marketing Lu Yarbrough III encouraged the audience “to reach out to everyone you know” to participate as the platform designed to help business professionals and entrepreneurs achieve their goals expands its tech focus.
One of the nation’s leading financial centers and a nascent tech hub, Charlotte serves as the perfect venue for the event’s relaunch, Graves asserts. Black Enterprise has forged partnerships with other major corporations—some based in Charlotte—as well as leading government officials, including Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman George Dunlap, Charlotte Deputy Economic Development Director Kevin Dick, and Councilmember James Mitchell, who serves as chairman of FWD’s local steering committee which played a critical role in the 2018 Summit’s success. Citing that he and City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield are “unapologetic about developing black entrepreneurs,” Mitchell thanked “Black Enterprise for believing in Charlotte and allowing us to host the conference.”
In viewing FWD as a potential catalyst to spur black business development within the metro, he set a new attendance target of 2.000 business owners. And to kick off that registration charge, Mitchell, along with a few city council colleagues, presented a “scholarship check” to local entrepreneur Travis Blackmon, owner of 25/27 Cleaning Service L.L.C., making it possible for him to gain the necessary strategies and contacts to move his business forward.
For more on FWD, check out the video: