by Stephen D. Riley
(NNPA)—There were no tennis shoes, jeans or sweatshirts present at the Minority Business Summit’s “Men of Influence” luncheon Feb. 20, just neatly creased slacks, fashionable ties and double-breasted suits. But the only thing sharper than the dress code may have been the entertaining and sharp dialogue among the event’s guests. Inside the Billie Holiday Ballroom at the Baltimore Hilton Hotel, some of the most prominent figures in minority business gathered at one of the area’s premiere annual business conferences.
At a panel moderated by BET personality Jeff Johnson, business leaders Michael Eric Dyson, Earl G. Graves, Jr., Daniel Meachum and Patrick Turner put their impressive resumes aside and shared their thoughts on the state of the Black economy, ways to improve business and dispelling some of the failing mindsets that exist among minority business owners.
Hard hitting messages from Dyson, Graves and Meachum awoke the mixed crowd of both young and experienced entrepreneurs to the realization that “you don’t have to sacrifice the bottom line to be able to do what’s right.”
The panelists avoided many of the politically correct answers that saturate most business gatherings, and helped remove the veil from the ugly picture that is today’s economy. The summit, now in its 11th year, also focused on detailing insider tips, business secrets and providing a forum for open networking.
“It just gives folks an opportunity to hear what the resources are, what the new areas of opportunities are and how they can get the deal done,” said LaRian Finney, CEO of Visionary Marketing Group, which hosts the summit. “We just try to put folks in a place where they can be successful and see what they need to do to move their companies forward.”
The summit will end its 11-year run in Baltimore when it moves to Washington, D.C., next year. Although members of the crowd expressed their displeasure at the summit’s move down I-95, that didn’t stop local residents from bringing their business cards, recording cameras and notebooks to get the most out of this year’s event.
Among those present were visiting students from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.
“It opened my eyes to a lot of things,” said 17-year-old Poly student Justin Carpenter. “It really allowed me to keep an open mind for doing business. I learned that it’s all about cultivating the next person, to make them better and help them prosper and the only way you can prosper is by helping someone else.”