Entrepreneurship Summit



Janet McCoy (mccoyjl@mail.auburn.edu)


AUBURN -- Auburn University will host on Oct. 16-18 the Second Annual African-American Entrepreneurship Summit, which is aimed at helping small business owners strengthen their companies and cope with today's tough financial climate.

The summit, sponsored by AU and financed by Alabama businesses, will bring together more than 125 business owners and state and federal policymakers to "discuss ideas, network and provide individuals with the real 'how to's' for succeeding and surviving in today's downsizing environment," says summit coordinator Keenan Grenell, an assistant professor in the Public Administration Program at AU.

The summit, "The Power to Grow, Succeed and Survive" will be at the AU Hotel and Conference Center. It was developed by faculty in AU's Public Administration program in the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Economics in the College of Business.

"One of our main objectives is to bring business people, academicians and policy makers together to discuss ideas on increasing entrepreneurship in their communities," says Grenell. "We also want to provide Alabama small business owners access to corporate buyers, minority purchasing programs and networking opportunities."

The summit begins Monday with a welcome by AU President William V. Muse, followed by an address by John Sibley Butler, a professor of sociology and management and chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas. Butler will discuss the importance of rebuilding black communities through the process of entrepreneurship and organizational building. His latest book is Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Among Black Americans: A Reconstruction of Race and Economics.

At 2:30 p.m., Kathy Jordan of Jordan & Company of Huntsville, and a panel of speakers will discuss "African-American Entrepreneurship" and "The Contract with America: Windows of Opportunity During Uncertain Times." The session will be offered live via satellite through AU's Satellite Uplink and Telecommunications.

"This session will be interactive, meaning that participants at other locations will be able to ask panelists questions," Grenell said.

Tuesday sessions include:

** 8 a.m. concurrent sessions on "Success Story: How I Survived," featuring Robert Hicks of Hicks Development of Opelika; James Sefah of the AES Group of Opelika; Albert Seawright of Montgomery-based Medical Place; and Charlena Bray of Human Resource Services, Inc. in Birmingham; and "Selling Your Company or Products to Corporate America," featuring Joseph Hudson of The Hudson Group in Atlanta.

** 9:30 a.m. concurrent sessions on "Getting and Keeping Your Customers," with Benjamin Jenkins with the Department of Defense, Defense Contract Management District, South; and "Using Technology to do Business," with Danny Lam of AU.

** 11 a.m. concurrent sessions on "Resources for Business Startup," with representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development Centers, and the Alabama Minority Supplier Development Council; and "Resources for Expanding Your Business," with representatives from the Southern Development Council, the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission and the city of Auburn's Economic Development Department.

** 12:30 p.m.,Toni Norman, president of Ranor, Inc. of New York City, a private label company for major retailers including Kmart and Wal-Mart, will give the luncheon keynote address. Norman served a four-year term as a member of the Small Business and Agriculture Advisory Council of the Federal Bank of New York and is co-founder of the African-American Educational Center of New Jersey.

** 3 p.m. session with a panel discussion on "African-American Entrepreneurship and the Multibillion Dollar Sports Industry" led by Montgomery TV personality Norman Lumpkin, and featuring former AU football stars and successful businessmen Brian Smith, an Atlanta stockbroker, and Tom Gossom, a Birmingham advertising executive.

** 7 p.m. awards dinner features Dennis Kimbro, author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, the result of research by Kimbro, director of the Center of Entrepreneurship at Clark Atlanta College, and the late Napoleon Hill, author of the phenomenal best seller Think and Grow Rich.

Wednesday sessions include:

** 8 a.m. breakfast with Matthew Dawson of Birmingham, a retired Del Monte Foods executive.

** 10 a.m. session on "Financial Tools for Your Business," featuring area bankers Lawrence Cole of First Tuskegee Bank, Al Johnson of Commonwealth National Bank, Warner Williams of Farmer's National Bank and Robert Davis of Alabama Exchange Bank.

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CONTACT: Grenell, 334/844-6151; or Rennie Jones, Satellite Uplink manager, 334/844-5707, for information concerning satellite uplink.