More than 250 people attended the Economics of Entrepreneurialism Wealth and Globalization event held March 30 at the Hosanna House in Wilkinsburg. Classifying the event as a success, moving forward, Rufus Idris said it is time for all the participating partners and businesses to begin working together to strengthen and prepare their selves to do better business.

HOSTING THE EVENT—Dr. Howard B. Slaughter, CEO of Christian Management Enterprises, served as MC of the successful Economics of Entrepreneurialism, Wealth and Globalization event. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)

“Our next steps are to communicate and work with the partners to assure that they are ready to service the businesses and meet their needs,” committed Idris, the executive director of the Christian Evangelistic Economic Development Organization.

In agreement with Idris, Howard B. Slaughter, Jr. PhD, president and CEO of Christian Management Enterprises, LLC and organizer of the day of activities said that it is an advantage to have public, private, non-profit organizations and for profit entities working effectively to help small businesses. “Businesses have to be ready by being confident of their abilities, fundable and understanding of what is required of them.”

Slaughter identified the goal of the activities as a way to introduce the audience to new concepts and ideas for doing business with a strong emphasis on Faith-based initiatives while having the opportunity to hear from successful regional small business owners that are effectuating change within the area. Activities included presentations and breakout sessions. Participants included Bishop Loran E. Mann; Prelate, Vermont Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Church of God in Christ; Charlie Batch, founder of Best of the Batch Foundation, Why Youth and quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers; Congressman Mike Doyle of the 14th Congressional District of Pennsylvania; Rachel Burse, Save–A-Lot Minority Business Development Manager; Ruth Byrd-Smith, Director of Allegheny County M/W/DBE Department; Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive; Willie C. Taylor, regional director, Economic Development Administration, US Department of Commerce; Cedric Grant, director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, US Department of Congress; Jerry Flavin, Small Business Administration, Washington, D.C.; and Idris of CEED.

Small business representatives included Don Williams of Jet Industries, Wakike Jones of Urgent Denture Repair, Chase Patterson of Corporate Diversity and a representative for Shining Stars Creative Childcare and Learning Center.

Breakout sessions were Key Priorities and Accessing Funding conducted by the Economic Development Administration; Skills to Wealth Small Business Assistance Information conducted by CEED; How to Secure Bank Financing for Your Small Business conducted by First National Bank and How to Do Business with the County conducted by the Allegheny County M/W/DBE Department. A Faith–Based Roundtable Discussion was hosted by Grant and co-facilitated by Taylor and Slaughter.

Emphasizing the importance and role of small business, Congressman Doyle pointed out that from 2005 to 2008 small businesses in Pennsylvania were responsible for 72.4 percent of new private sector jobs. “It is critical that we continue to support Pennsylvania’s smallest businesses considering that most employers in the state have less than 20 employees and the smallest businesses were the only ones to report positive job change numbers in 2008 to 2009. I firmly believe that more can be done to insure that all our small businesses can share this success and to reinforce the improvements that we have seen within the last few years,” he said.

An experienced entre­pre­neur, County Executive Fitzgerald who has been in office since the beginning of the year stated that he views the future of the region as positive. “The future in Pittsburgh is very bright. I could not have come into office at a better time,” he said. He did note that things are going well for a certain segment of society but not everybody. “That is something that we have to change.”

Concurring with Congressman Doyle that the area is no longer made up of big business, he stressed the importance of education, partnerships and working together at all levels. Promising that Allegheny County is going to be around to help, he mentioned the significance of working with the county’s M/W/DBE department. “We have a great community, but it would be a lot better if the opportunities were available to everyone,” he indicated.

As a former banker and most recently president and CEO of Landmarks Community Capital Corp., Slaughter is well aware of the need for local businesses to have a wider network than Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania. “Each entity on a local, national and faith-based level should be aware of each other and know what the other is capable of,” he explained. Saying he brought the national partners in to show that Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania is ready, that there are many African-American entrepreneurs at all levels prepared to do business.

“Small businesses are the engines of the U.S. economy and minority businesses are playing a huge part in the growth of small businesses, in part due to technological changes in the way companies do business, Slaughter said. Allegheny County’s minority businesses are leveraging marketing and business expansion opportunities through technology and leveraging the region’s expansive University network; which makes this an attractive region for federal investment.”

The general consensus of the sponsoring partners and participants in the Economics of Entrepreneurialism, Wealth and Globalization forum was that it was a great success.

Partners of the event included CEED, First National Bank, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the United States Congress, Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantage Business Enterprise, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Christian Management Enterprises.

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