Monday, June 3, 2019

Coalition of Black Professionals Small Business Summit makes big impact - El Dorado News-Times

Coalition of Black Professionals Small Business Summit makes big impact - El Dorado News-Times

Coalition of Black Professionals Small Business Summit makes big impact - El Dorado News-Times

Posted: 02 Jun 2019 06:55 PM PDT

From government contracts and bank loans to real estate investing and credit building tips, attendees of the second annual Coalition of Black Professionals Small Business Summit were showered with tips as business professionals hand delivered information for building and developing business ideas, as well as providing insight into improving current businesses.

The event was held Saturday at the St. James Village Outreach Facility on Hillsboro and featured several breakout sessions from those within the business community.

Greg Williams and Jamar Cunnigham taught on real estate investing while Clarissa Pace of Shekinah Services lectured on business and personal credit, tax preparation and financial literacy.

BancorpSouth representatives Harvey Brown and Amy Ezell conducted breakout sessions where attendees learned of commercial lending, raising capital and banking for small businesses.

Businessman Greg Modica discussed the importance of having certifications while U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy District Director of the Arkansas District Office David Moody provided information about the resources of the Small Business Development Center and how it can provide help to business owners and entrepreneurs.

Moody was accompanied by Janell Morton, director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, which is located within the David F. Rankin College of Business on the campus of Southern Arkansas University.

Former Arkansas senator and representative Tracy Steele delivered the keynote address.

Steele, who currently serves as the president of the North Little Rock School District School Board, was introduced to the crowd by Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado.

Before Steele's introduction, Shepherd shared his views on economic development and acknowledged that his experience in serving in state government has help him appreciate the role that small business owners play in strengthening the local economy.

"I've come to realize how small business and local businesses are really the backbone of the state of Arkansas," said Shepherd. "We all would love to have a Toyota plant come into south Arkansas, we'd gladly take that, but we have to first and foremost take care of the businesses, particularly, that we already have here."

Shepherd also said he believes that the state's low unemployment is directly affected by the contributions of small business owners and entrepreneurs.

"The reason why we've been so successful in that area has primarily been because of small businesses and entrepreneurs that are willing to stick their neck out there, take a chance and work hard and invest in their communities," he said.

Shepherd encouraged audience members to do their part in making El Dorado, Union County and south Arkansas a place where their children and grandchildren want to live and stay.

While introducing Steele, Shepherd acknowledged Steele's accomplishment of working within the administration of former President Bill Clinton when he served as Arkansas' governor, as well Steele's own election to the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives.

In taking the stage, Steele delivered what he referred to as essential tips to having a successful business.

Steele, referring to minority-owned businesses, said that it is a critical subject matter and that the time could not be better.

"I'll give an indication of what worked for me," he said. "How your business can be 100 percent successful."

Steele acknowledged that although his approach may be perceived as little bit unorthodox, it is critical in making sure a business is successful.

"A fundamental mistake people make when going into business is to do it alone," Steele said. "'People go into it by themselves, which makes things very difficult."

In solving this issue, Steele delivered this "tidbit."

"In your business, the most important thing I think you can do to ensure your success is to make Jesus your CEO," he said.

Steele said that if Jesus is the boss and CEO, there are a few things to be done:

Listen to him when everything is on the line.

Consult with him before making major decisions.

Impress him and do the type of things that will please him.

"Jesus is the only one that is undefeated," he said.

In reminding the audience about key attributes to a successful business, Steele said that there are a few attributes to business owners that are important.

"If you are going to be successful, people have to love you. You love on them. That's how you get people to love you. When you love on people, people will support you." Steele said. "Another thing I want you to realize is that people feel when you go into business that it's a lifetime commitment."

"Make sure you are looking at technology. People are into convenience. … You got to stay two steps ahead of the game when you are thinking about where you are going to invest your time and resources. … You have to be prepared and ready to take advantage of the situation."

"However, there are somethings you must do in person. You can't get (or give) a hug online," he said.

Terrance Armstard can be reached at 870-862-6611 or

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