Ron Brown Biz Summit August 23
By Dianne Anderson
Entrepreneurs and established business owners will converge in Orange County soon to learn new tricks of the trade from some of the best in the business.
The upcoming three-day 2018 Ron Brown Business/Economic Summit and Women’s Symposium promises to bring rising business stars up to par for opportunities that are plentiful, provided they know where to look.
Aubry Stone, president and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce, said that Black business should get positioned to access untapped billions of dollars flowing from city, county, state and federal levels.
Historic impediments to Black businesses accessing government and local contracts is a big concern, but he said the community can strengthen up, particularly with some of the biggest supplier diversity contractors, such as utility companies.
Even so, it’s an uphill battle.
He compares whatever disadvantages exist to being in a 100-yard dash — one where the opponent holds a 30-yard lead, but he takes a pragmatic stance.
“You’re expected to be in a fair race, but it is what it is,” Stone said. “With that said, I see my role as trying to get African American men and women up to speed as fast as possible, professionally as possible.”
The three-day summit starts Thursday, August 23 with breakfast, lunch and workshops around Women Succeeding in Technology. On Friday, August 24, the event continues with an exhibit hall and One-On-One Matching Opportunities by appointment.
On Saturday, August 25, the summit winds down with a CBCC General Membership meeting, and a youth summit on business planning, financial literacy and designing business presentations. All events run from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., at Hilton Irvine/Orange County Airport located at 18800 MacArthur Blvd. In Irvine.
The inspiration for the summit is creating opportunities to remove barriers to access, which was at the forefront of what Ron Brown stood for as a visionary business leader, Stone said.
The focus is on cultivating strategic partnerships to get people lined up for a greater economic agenda.
Brown, who died in a 1996 plane crash, championed economic empowerment through education, and establishing business relationships while serving as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Through his lifetime, he pushed for jobs and civil rights, was a noted attorney, and served as the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
“We’re the only statewide organization of our size that’s been honoring him since his death,” Stone said. “His legacy should be cherished forever in America.”
In keeping with Brown’s larger view of economic growth, Stone believes that joint ventures are one way to move the Black community into the future of business development. However, more business unity is needed to operate on the scale that big companies seek when they put bids out for a contract.
“There are only two ways to grow a business. One is organically, two is to do like the big boys, acquisition. The airlines do joint ventures and mergers. They understand it,” he said.
This year, the conference lays the groundwork for business development, and how Black businesses can learn to compete to their fullest capacity through teamwork. Companies that work well together hold the advantage at winning contracts, he said.
In a joint venture, two companies could merge otherwise unrelated skill sets, such as marketing or technology, to meet contract requirements.
Together, they can get the job done.
“It could be something like, I have $15 million bonding capacity and you have $10 million, but together we’ve got $25 [million],” he said. “It looks more viable to the prime funder. That’s what we talk about at our conference.”
Winning in business and developing the right entrepreneurial attitude also holds true to some old school basics that have stood the test of time, like “crying in your milk” never solves the problem.
“No one is going to do something just for the hell of it. I don’t complain about it, I just do it. I hold their feet to the fire,” he said.
For more information or to register, see http://www.calbcc.org