What better way to learn about the significance and benefits of the Minority Business Opportunity Committee and its affiliate organizations than from its participants? That was the philosophy of Benjamin Butler and the Minority Enterprise Development Week committee during the 28 anniversary of the event.
Recognized for being a vital component in strengthening America’s economic state as well as affecting people’s lives within the community, eight local minority-, veteran- and women-owned business owners were honored for their success and efforts. With the theme “Strategies for Growth and Competitiveness in the Global Economy,” the Minority Enterprise Development Awards Program was held at the Meadowlands Holiday Inn.
From the MBOC, Faye Ritter received the Donald S. Carter Lifetime Achievement Award. “I am grateful to be remembered,” said the president and CEO of The Allegheny Group. The first MBOC director said, “While celebrating 27 years of business, it has been like a roller coaster.” Reflecting over her 35 years of involvement with the organization, she pointed out that as she and other members have traveled to other cities they have learned to appreciate the benefits of operating as a minority business in Pittsburgh.
The Allegheny Group is the trade name for Allegheny Fabricating & Supplies, Inc. which provides a wide range of industrial and workplace needs. Composed of several divisions, it produces electro-mechanical and sub-assembly components through its industrial division and provides office furniture and special contract furniture for health care office or panel systems.
In business for 11 years, Rochelle Oaks, owner of The Oaks Group, LLC received the Veteran Business of the Year award from the MBOC. With the vision to become the training and development consultants of choice in the Pittsburgh and surrounding area, Oaks said she and her company has been stretched while growing and striving to accomplish their goal. The author of “The Power of Your Personality” just finished her second book, “Is Time Slipping Through Your Fingers?” Her company specializes in diversity and inclusion, leadership development, personality assessments and team building training.
Oaks and Ritter along with the other awardees credit the staff and members of the MBOC as great resources and a catalyst to opening doors and forming business relationships with all levels of government entities.
Other award recipients included Donna Chappel of Advanced Integration Group, the U.S. Small Business Administration Minority Small Business of the Year. Charles Sanders of Urban Settlement Solutions, LLC, received the MBOC Minority Business of the Year Award and Michael Cvetic of the Community College of Allegheny College received the MBE/WBE Advocate Award. Ron Alvarado of Novus Staffing Solutions, received the Diversity Business Resource Center Client Business of the Year.
Master of ceremonies for the conference lunch, Butler used biblical verses one through four from Isaiah 54 as words of encouragement to the awardees and attendees. “Some businesses are barren and don’t produce while some are desolate and alone,” he said, pointing out that businesses need structure, a plan and a system.” He advised to push for excellence and to change the way of thinking. “You have to see yourself successful and prosperous. We all have the capacity to be great. Catch the vision, don’t limit yourself and don’t let people define you. The people at this table are a living testimony,” he said.
The MED Week Committee consisted of Butler, Christina Damiano of the DBRC, Sandy Burkett of Vital Signs, Elizabeth Bowers of the Department of General Services, Larry Sullivan of the Department of Energy and National Energy Technology Laboratory and Judith Kirby of the Small Business Administration.
Excited to be celebrating 28 years, Butler says he and the committee look forward to continuously serving as the focal point for developing partnerships with city, county, state and federal governments as well as public and private sectors to ensure economic development opportunities for minorities, veterans and women.