Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce Conference

omplaining was not on the agenda at the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce’s (MBCC) State of Black Business Conference on June 23, 2011. All present acknowledged the state of Black entrepreneurship is dire. Coming up with solutions to change this grim condition was the buzz for the more than 300 African-American business owners that packed the Doubletree Guest Suites Fort Shelby Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom.

Congratulations to MBCC for its insight in initiating this conversation and assembling local and national Black business experts to outline solutions. Conference participants walked away with clarity on actions they could immediately implement, which will positively impact their bottom lines. Panelists stressed that strengthening one’s networks and gaining more contracts will result in the economic empowerment of Black enterprises and the African- American community. MBCC’s motto addresses this bottom line issue best: Economic Parity is Economic Justice.

Mayor Dave Bing kicked off the conference by pledging his support to the African-American business community. Mayor Bing spoke proudly on the undying resilience of Detroit and his faith that through it all, the city will prevail.

“Detroit is open for business,” he proclaimed. Mayor Bing shared advice he felt would make a difference. “If you don’t get the right kind of support and the right kind of opportunities, you won’t make it,” he said. “Even though we all may be friendly competitors, we’re all teammates. And we’ve got to share the resources we’ve been able to accumulate…to see how we can make things better for us all.”

President of the U.S. Black Chamber, Ron Busby, said, “We’re about growing the economy nationwide, because if not, we will all be left behind.” He advised the business owners “to change how we look at contract opportunities.”

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Other conference highlights included the networking session and panel discussion. President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Mike Finney, shared the importance of building one’s networks and discovering ways to access resources with conference participants. George Fraser, CEO of FraserNet, challenged business owners to become producers. Every speaker at the conference strongly encouraged the progression of Black businesses the United States. Every participant left with a fresh outlook on how to improve his or her business.

MBCC is Michigan’s first statewide Black chamber of commerce. The chamber’s creation is the culmination of efforts by a network of business organizations called the African American Business Alliance.

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