VOL. 126 | NO. 118 | Friday, June 17, 2011
Econ. Development Fair Highlights MMBC Efforts
By Aisling Maki
The Memphis Minority Business Council is prepping for its fourth annual Economic Development Fair, focusing on diversity, inclusion and supporting the growth of minority and women-owned businesses to serve the needs of major corporations.
The three-day event will take place Monday, June 20, through Wednesday, June 22, at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, with vendors moving in Monday and attendee registration starting Tuesday at 7 a.m.
“Memphis is rich with opportunity and the EDF is the platform that focuses on economic opportunities that benefit the entire community,” said Luke Yancy, III, president and CEO of MMBC, an economic development agency dedicated to promoting a climate of inclusion that allows minority and women-owned businesses to prosper through business-to-business relationships and entrepreneurial development.
Although Memphis is a minority-majority city, minority revenues make up only a small percentage of revenue in Shelby County.
But Yancy said data also shows that African American businesses hire mostly workers who reside in the communities where the businesses are located.
MMBC, whose membership included about 110 major corporations, places a strong focus on bridging minority suppliers of goods and services with major corporations and public sector institutions.
“Memphis is rich with opportunity and the EDF is the platform that focuses on economic opportunities that benefit the entire community. ... It’s about pulling the entire community together around this issue of economics in our inner city, to basically point out that we need help, but there are also positive things happening in the inner city.”
– Luke Yancy III
President and CEO,
Memphis Minority Business Council
“We have minority businesses that have the ability to provide services for larger companies, and they can scale up, meaning that as they get contracts, they hire workers to fulfill those contracts,” Yancy said. “Those employed people are consumers, purchasing homes and cars and supporting retail establishments in the inner city.”
The Economic Development Fair will feature about 200 vendor booths, five seminars, featured speakers and panel discussions.
“It’s about pulling the entire community together around this issue of economics in our inner city, to basically point out that we need help, but there are also positive things happening in the inner city,” Yancy said. “The fair ends up being sort of a demonstration of what the MMBC does to make this happen.”
Seminars topics include transforming vendors into strategic partners, diversity, inclusion and sustainability, and building leaders and entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow – a seminar designed to expose minority high school and college students to the world of entrepreneurship.
The fair’s first speaker will be Black Enterprise CEO Earl Graves, Jr. who will open the event Tuesday morning delivering the keynote address at a Power Breakfast. Other speakers include Melody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, who has shared her experience as a financial expert on “Good Morning America” and other television programs, and Hyacinth Vassell, manager of Inner City Capital Connections’ Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.
The fair each year hosts a CEO/Presidents roundtable, which in past years has included the executive leadership of major corporations such as FedEx and AutoZone.
This year’s roundtable will feature the following local mayors: Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr., Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy, Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald and Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner.
During a Wednesday morning roundtable discussion facilitated by TV talk show host Loretta McNary, all five mayors will discuss the value of economic inclusion in the growth and stability of the Greater Memphis area.
Immediately following Wednesday’s roundtable will be a luncheon panel of three female entrepreneurs sharing the stories of their journeys in different industries, facilitated by Jozelle Booker, manager of Procurement and Contracts for Memphis Light, Gas & Water.
The Economic Development Fair runs from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. For a schedule of events and registration information, visit www.mmbc-memphis.org or call 525-6512.