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Memphis lands on White House radar for business improvement

Several of the city’s top business leaders and independent minority business owners will be on a group conference call in a follow-up to a trip to the White House last week.

by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Several of the city’s top business leaders and independent minority business owners will be on a group conference call Thursday (Feb. 9) in a follow-up to a trip to the White House last week. The White House session featured an afternoon-long conference to discuss potential ways to improve the business structure of Memphis.

Kept confidential until completed, the White confab was arranged by Business Forward, which works with the White House Business Council on policy briefings for business communities throughout the nation. A national non-profit group, Business Forward reached out to the Black Business Association (of Memphis) to gather additional insight from the African American business independent business community, and to gain insight from community business leaders.

The New Tri-State Defender contacted several of the participants in the White House conference for their brief impressions of the tangible benefits they hope will come from the process:

Lexie Carter, business advocate, lobbyist, talk show host: “The need for specified training and incentives to assist small businesses in creating and paying for internships. And I think it is very important that we focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs, which seem to be left out in the cold right now.”

Lorenzo Myrick, CEO, Amnesty Professional Services, Janitorial & Lawn Services for Professional Clients: “We were able to articulate the need for on the job training to advance our workforce for the global economy. I think we also identified that Memphis would be a great pilot center for creating change to create higher urban education levels. Another thing that I think was important is that we addressed the pink elephant in the room. A gentleman from Nashville pointed out how they have received funding from within the state, but we all know that may not be possible for Memphis, as the schools situation has shown. But I believe it is positive that we now open doors to frank discussion.”

Calvin Anderson, Sr. VP, Chief of Staff, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Tennessee: “It was really a great conversation on the business environment of Memphis. There was awareness and knowledge of the success Memphis had in job creation and economic enhancement, especially in manufacturing recruitment. Good discussion on how to best work together to broaden skill and workforce development and minority and entrepreneur opportunity.”

Howard Robertson, principal, TRUST Marketing: “The most exciting aspect is that our business community, particularly our minority business community, now has a direct relationship with the White House. In business, as in personal life, relationships begin with contact, communication and trust. We have that now, so the opportunities and potential for future collaboration and assistance from the Obama administration could be tremendous.”

Roby Williams, President, Black Business Association: “There was a lot of terrific, on point information offered by everyone. What I would like to see is the realization that Memphis is the perfect place to create a new growth for black, small and urban business structuring, especially in reaching out into the inner cities. We can be a shining example of how collaboration can work. We are perfect for it.”

The White House took on a decidedly Memphis flavor during a special conference on business development last week. (Courtesy photo)


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