Black Expo 2010
Strength and Unity
The presence of strength and unity for minority businesses in Northeast Florida was once again displayed at the Black Expo in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Prime Osborn was filled with heart thumping R&B music that permeated the atmosphere. The electrifying energy was so contagious that young adults in attendance minds were filled with the entrepreneurial spirit that business owners at the Black Expo have already embraced.
Exposure and Empowerment
The Black Expo exposes businesses to opportunities to collaborate with each other and expand their presence in other business networks and the potential for joint ventures. Providing an occasion to put a face to the name of their business for the public. Black Enterprise magazine, to solidify the mission of the Expo, “that as businesses minorities with a business mindset can bring power to the African American community.” Not only was economic power displayed, but dispelling myths of the minority community having a “crab mentality or slave mentality” of pulling each other down as each works towards economic success. The opposite was shown with businesses not only helping each other, but sharing successful business ideologies, networking tips, future project collaboration and increasing the awareness of business to the youth/teens that will be the future business owners of Northeast Florida.
The physical and vocal presence of up and coming E3 Business Group, Inc. whose Executive Director Anthony Butler, Sr. established history at this years Expo being the first entrepreneurial entity to have 6 vendor booths under the E3 umbrella. The exposure of this type of presence allows E3 Business Group to show not only the business aspects of sharing knowledge, resources and economic empowerment, but how businesses must embrace the concept of participating more on the grassroots level of participation in community endeavors. That being said, E3 made it known that their presence is growing in Northeast Florida and inviting the public to the upcoming “Are You Living Color” forum that will be held on Thursday, January 27th 2010, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Northeast Florida and other local businesses. RTRC II is an opportunity for fortune 500 companies, small businesses, churches, educational institutions, and community oriented organizations to show their commitment to racial equity, cultural competency, and economic diversity.
Importance of Minority Businesses
The importance of minority businesses is sometimes down played or not addressed at all and is not fully realized by the public at large nor some of the current political candidates that are running for the Mayoral title. The only candidate that has been consistently recognized is Alvin White whose presence at the Black Expo events, business forums and participation has set him above others because of his understanding and commitment to the growth and expansion of all businesses even embracing minority businesses. Those business entrepreneurs that have a presence in the African American community, the Hispanic, Latino, Haitian, Mexican, and other diverse peoples of the Northeast Florida consortium of business owners. Their voices should be heard because of the monies they contribute to the City of Jacksonville, Florida. The current administration sometimes turns a deaf ear to diverse organizations, down playing their influence in our growing diversifying community.
Healthy Living Addressed
Blue Cross and Blue Shield brought to light the health aspects of healthy living and awareness of being proactive to health concerns. Testing for various health related conditions were available; on a personal note I appreciated the dedication, hard work, and professionalism of the doctors, nurses and other health professionals of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Northeast Florida, encouraging me to avail myself to their services to be tested for high blood pressure, diabetes and prostate cancer. Being in the age range of 45 to 55, and the changes that occur during the aging process, minorities need to be proactive in their health awareness.
Our (minority men and women) chances of high blood pressure, colon cancer, breast cancer, visual degeneration, and diabetes increases with age.
Cheryl Williams, RN states that minorities need to be proactive with their health concerns. Even if they do not have complete insurance coverage, the costs will be significantly higher if there is a
serious illness that needs to be addressed later. Ms. Williams has been a professional nurse for over 20 years and has seen a decline in minorities particularly seniors and those in their early 20s and 30s going to the doctors for routine checkups that can allow for early detection and early treatment. Early detection lowers the cost of health care because of the preventive aspects. The presence of the Department of Health reminded us that testing for HIV/AIDS is imperative to protect oneself and loved ones.
The DEEN Fitness Center works to promote physical fitness in the community, their diabetes classes being offered by Melinda Henry extends the understanding of the personal treatment of diabetes.
The workshops available were relevant to technology and business. William Jackson of DCPS and E3 addressed Social Media and Social Networks; the issues of Sexting, Texting and Cyberbullying. So well received and needed for the community that Mr. Jackson has offered this workshop to community groups, churches, schools and other entities that feel the need to address this growing issue locally and nationally. Blacksonville of Jacksonville, Florida as well presented a powerful workshop in how businesses are using social media, social networking to create avenues of partnership and collaboration.
The additional workshops addressed finance, Human Resource, insurance, and obtaining capital to start or operate a business.
Diversity and Forward Thinking
The conclusion of the Black Expo should not be the end of business connectivity, on the contrary it should be the start and continuation of collaborative networking. The spark to increase business joint ventures within the minority and non-minority community, to encourage the connection of grassroots entrepreneurialship and growing into mainstream enterprises. Parents have a responsibility to encourage their children to dream beyond just being involved in sports, but to foster a business mindset early. The statistics show that the majority of athletes do not make it into the professional realm so must fall back on education and alternative career aspirations. To many minority youth have tunnel vision in their careers for sports, when the vision of business and entrepreneurial potential should be made a priority. The need for students and job seekers to redefine their careers according to values and passion is important for growth in communities. The passion for sports needs to be extended for education and business and recognized the necessity for diversity in its ranks at all levels of age development.
Quotes from notable African American such as W.E.B. DuBois’ states that “the most gifted 30% of the black population will lead the rest”; as I feel as an educator, business consultant, and mentor. If we can bring money to bear in our communities and employ it with the right ideas and talent, we can build businesses, create jobs and provide returns for investors either Black, Hispanic, Latino, White, Asian, Haitian, or other ethnic groups. We must all embrace each others vision so collectively we can bring economic prosperity to the community as a WHOLE not allowing parts to decay, decline and die. Ultimately this decay affects the whole community, when one community hurts the whole community hurts. ”I would tell young people to start where they are with what they have and that the secret of a big success is starting with a small success and dreaming bigger and bigger dreams, I would tell them also that a young Black woman or a young Black man can’t dream too much today or dare too much if he or she works hard, perseveres and dedicates themselves to excellence.” John Johnson, Johnson Publishing Company founder.