Poppas got a brand new bag

Opening remarks for South Florida State of Black Business Forum, Friday, Aug. 26, Boca Raton, FL

How many of you are familiar with the James Brown song “Poppa’s Gotta Brand New Bag?”
My son’s birthday was last weekend and I wanted to get him something special, particularly after he got a new job in banking.
So last Friday, I got this brand new bag.
Let me tell you about this bag. It’s from the Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, CA and it contained the exhibition book from The Kinsey Collection, which is opening at the Smithsonian Institution on Oct. 15.
Many of you in West Palm Beach are familiar with Bernard and Shirley Kinsey as Florida natives who have gone on to great success in a number of arenas.
Specifically, last week, I was struck that so many artists came up to them and said how they appreciated the expanding markets that their collection and exhibitions were creating.
That speaks to why we created National Black Business Month in 2004. Most people don’t believe there are any black-owned businesses–they’re not on the 24-hour cable business channels, nor in the business sections. And what opinions exist are often derogatory.
So we decided to create a brand identity for black-owned businesses. The real story is about the difference which they make for their communities. When they succeed, as the Kinseys have as art collectors, they open up success for many others.
Let me reach in the bag and show you another example. When I arrived last night, I was taken to Chef Richard’s Culinary Flair in West Palm Beach, which is a catering business that has a small banquet room for events. In fact, they host a weekly gathering for local businesses each Thursday.
The chef is a graduate of culinary academies and has worked in five-star hotels, but he prefers to create as many as 30 jobs through his own business, including four full-time staff.
By hosting the networking event, he once again demonstrates how his success translates into benefits for others.
Whenever you support businesses like these, you increase those benefits and that is the central objective of National Black Business Month each August for the past seven years — to visit at least one of the 1.9 million black entrepreneurs each day of August. We call it 31 Ways, 31 Days, with a suggested activity each day.
The only way we will significantly reduce the disparity in African-American unemployment is by growing the number and scale of black-owned firms. Our theme this year is the Reindustrialization of Black Communities. When we create new industries and new regional clusters of companies, we provide an economic backbone for our neighborhoods.
African-American national income of close to $1 trillion is roughly equivalent to the gross domestic products of either Russia or India and four times that of South Africa. What’s the difference? We don’t make anything.
Last night, Chef Richard served us a chocolate banana bread pudding, something I had never tasted before. Sounds delicious, right? Chocolate banana bread pudding…The key point is that he created it and hired several people to make it and serve it.
In our panel discussion tonight, we want each of our distinguished guests to discuss how to create more producers like Chef Richard or the artists in the Kinsey Collection.
Where’s Our Stimulus: State of Black Business, seventh edition, and a new book, FIND IT FAST: the Local Guide to Business Inclusion, provide information on the available markets and resources to spur more innovation.
There is $17 billion in African-American income in South Florida, enough to generate 8,000 new jobs if two percent of that income is directed strategically towards black-owned businesses.
But often the objectives of legislators are not being carried out. We’re releasing today information on the low numbers of black businesses which have received contracts both on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup and over the past five years, on Hurricane Katrina recovery. Only nine companies have gotten 14 contracts on the Gulf work this year; and just 771 of 26,100 contracts resulting from Hurricane Katrina have gone to African-American companies.
In our reports we identify nine key factors for black business success, which include access to capital, executive leadership, supportive legislation, and frequent monitoring of supplier diversity.
On our panel are people who can address each of those areas. We just heard from Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, whom we are delighted was able to join us.