Nashville Minority Business Center presents 2018 MEDWeek celebration

The 2018 Minority Enterprise Development Week (MEDWeek) activities here in Nashville, hosted by the Nashville Minority Business Center, run Sunday, November 25 through Sunday, December 2. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Contracting for Equity: Leveling the Playing Field for Minority Businesses.’ Most MED Week events will be held at the Nashville City Club. MEDWeek celebration 2018 offers three phenomenal luncheon events, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, in addition to an award ceremony dinner on Friday and a free business recognition event on the closing Sunday.

This year’s MEDWeek Business Development Conference will highlight Darrell Freeman, a serial entrepreneur that sold his company for $20 million last year; Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, a global policy specialist that will shed light on the benefits of economic connections with minorities; and Jewel Burks, an under 30-year-old IT disrupter that sold her software innovation to Amazon.

This is a time to turn our attention to the state of minority business enterprise and pledge our continued allegiance to further their growth and development. Many leading indicators report that small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy and minority small businesses are no exception. As the primary job creators in our local, state and national marketplace, small and minority businesses are crucial to solving our unemployment issues and vital to ensuring our state and local economy is thriving. Tennessee’s business environment is thriving. Tennessee is nearly in its 6th consecutive year of growth and experienced an 8.7 percent increase in the number of business filings in the first quarter of 2017 alone, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Firms owned by minorities or women are significantly underutilized in Metro Nashville and state government, according to a disparity study that sheds fresh light on a contracting problem that has existed in the city and state of Tennessee for years. Despite the state’s and city’s healthy economy, there are disparities that exist that prevent all businesses from thriving at similar levels. One way that small businesses grow is to secure economic opportunities with state and local government agencies.

With your help we can ensure that all businesses have a real opportunity to thrive and work with business leaders, government officials, and state legislators to develop ways to eliminate systemic barriers and create sustainable economic development opportunities for diverse businesses in the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee.

“America’s great strength lies in our diversity of people, perspectives, and ideas,” said former President Barack Obama noting the celebration of MED Week while in office. “We cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. But if we invest in small businesses and give all our entrepreneurs a chance to compete, new opportunities will open, and we will flourish as individuals and as a nation.”

MEDWeek was made an official national celebration in 1983. This year marks the 36th annual event presented by the Nashville Minority Business Center (NMBC). The Nashville Minority Business Center was established in 1984 by Ms. Marilyn Robinson. For more than three decades Ms. Robinson, with the aid of Vice President Lethia Mann, has worked tirelessly to increase minority participation in business. “Hopefully, we have made a difference in encouraging minority businesses through our advocacy, conferences, workshops, and presentation of awards,” said Robinson. “This year, we’re highlighting diversity, technology, economic disparities and their remedies, as well as the power of connections – all in effort to level the playing field for minority businesses.”

Here is a brief chronological rundown of the main events: How She Did It: A Conversation with Jewel Burks Solomon on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm; Contracting for Equity: Leveling the Playing Field for Minority Businesses with Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, Wednesday, November 28,, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm; Contracting for Equity: The Power of Connections with Darrell Freeman on Thursday, November 29, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm; and The Minority Business Achievement Awards on Friday, November 30, 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm; each off these evnts is at the Nashville City Club, 201 4th Avenue North, 20th Floor, Nashville, TN 37219. The closing event, Minority Business Recognition Sunday is Sunday, December 2, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm at First Baptist Church Capitol Hill, 625 Rosa L Parks Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37203. Learn more and register at nashvillemedweek.org.

HOW SHE DID IT: A CONVERSATION WITH JEWEL BURKS SOLOMON
Nashville City Club TUESDAY November 27, 2018 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Jewel Burks Solomon is an advocate for representation and access in the technology industry. As co-founder of Partpic, a startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision, Jewel and her team built groundbreaking technology poised to change the way people everywhere locate products. Partpic raised over $2 million in seed funding from notable investors like AOL co-founder, Steve Case, and Comcast Ventures, and integrated its software into mobile apps/websites of large parts distributors and retailers. Partpic was acquired by Amazon in late 2016 and the technology now powers visual search for replacement parts in the Amazon Mobile Shopping app.

Burks Solomon will sit down with Black in Tech Nashville co-founder Fallon S. Wilson, PhD to share her story and give insight to attendees on how she did it. From Nashville to the world of technology and venture capital to one of the world’s largest companies, we’re going to get the details on how she managed to turn her idea into a company sought after by Amazon. We’ll also hear her views on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech space.

Jewel is a proud board member at Goodie Nation and the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, and spends much of her free time mentoring startup founders and angel investing. Jewel has been featured in notable publications such as Forbes, Wired, TechCrunch, Essence, Glamour, and Business Insider. Prior to founding Partpic, Jewel served in management, enterprise sales, and strategic diversity roles at McMaster-Carr Industrial Supply and Google, Inc. Jewel is a native of Nashville TN, and graduate of Howard University. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband, Zekarias. Lunch will be served during this session. Parking will be available for a fee through the garage at the Nashville City Club.

CONTRACTING FOR EQUITY: LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD FOR MINORITY BUSINESSES
Nashville City Club WEDNESDAY, November 28, 2018 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Join us during #MEDWeek2018 to hear from acclaimed global policy consultant, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore. Dr. Rockeymoore is a leading expert on the racial wealth gap and the ‘color’ of entrepreneurship. She will share her insights on the racial wealth gap, its effect on marginalized households, its impact on the U.S. economy, and solutions for addressing these systemic challenges.

At a time when the City of Nashville is booming, not all of its residents are experiencing the boon. As much of the public dialogue centers around equity, there has been little done to address the vast income, wealth, and credit disparities among people of color and their white counterparts. Not only do these gaps affect households, these disparities also affect entrepreneurs and the economic atmosphere in which they operate.

In addition to hearing from Dr. Rockeymoore, we will also hear an update on the City of Nashville’s most recent disparity study from Ashford Hughes. Hughes, who serves as the city’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, will also provide attendees with a list of policy, programmatic, and practice recommendations designed to ensure more ethnic minorities receive an equitable distribution of public work. He will also share the next steps as it relates to pending legislation stemming from the disparity study.

CONTRACTING FOR EQUITY: THE POWER OF CONNECTIONS
Nashville City Club THURSDAY November 29, 2018 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Don’t miss your chance to hear from Nashville businessman, Darrell Freeman, who will share his insights on how to build the right relationships and your company more valuable. During #MEDWeek2018 Darrell will share his personal story, and his keen insights on how to scale a company by leveraging the power of your connections.

Darrell Freeman is a serial entrepreneur who grew an information technology firm from an office the ‘size of a closet’ into the company he sold for $20 million in 2017. The co-founder of a Tennessee-based bank and a construction company, Darrell is a master at building relationships and maximizing his connections to secure lucrative public and private contracts.

Lunch will be served at the venue for each of these three presentations. Parking will be available for a fee at the Nashville City Club garage.

MINORITY BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Nashville City Club FRIDAY November 30, 2018 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm

To celebrate the best among us, wear your best black and join in for the Minority Business Achievement Awards, will be held at the Nashville City Club. The annual minority business achievement awards recognize the accomplishments made by minority owned enterprises in the Nashville-Metropolitan area. Awards will be given in the following categories: Minority Business Advocate, Minority Business Award and Corporate Partner Award. Awardees are minority individuals who have made significant economic contributions in their industry and the community. Get tickets and register at nashvillemedweek.org #MEDWEEK2018

MINORITY BUSINESS RECOGNITION SUNDAY
First Baptist Church Capitol Hill SUNDAY December 2, 2018 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Join an inspirational service highlighting choirs from around the area to celebrate minority businesses. Business owners will be presented with medallions upon check in. Registration implies you will be present.

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