Sunday, September 27, marks the beginning of the 2015 Minority Enterprise Development Week (MEDWeek) activities here in Nashville. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Emerging Markets and Industries: A Blueprint for Success.’ MEDWeek was made an official national celebration by Ronald Reagan in 1983.
In a speech Reagan said: “Having one’s own business is a powerful engine for social and economic progress. Countless of our minority citizens are taking advantage of the opportunity called free enterprise. It’s very fitting that we acknowledge what minority business people are doing, not just for themselves and their families but for our nation.”
More recently, President Barack Obama said: “America’s great strength lies in our diversity of people, perspectives, and ideas. 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.”
This year marks the 31st 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.
MEDWeek begins September 27th with the Cathedral of Praise Church and God in Christ hosting Minority Business Recognition Sunday to honor business owners who are making a difference in the community. Activities also include a series of workshops, seminars and other educational outreach initiatives: The Business of Beauty, Brand Your Business to Sell!, and Power Networking Business Expo.
MEDWeek Activities will conclude with the R.H. Boyd Minority Business Achievement Awards on Sunday, October 4th at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The awards ceremony will be held at 2 pm and the featured speaker will be Nashville’s newly elected mayor Megan Barry. The Nashville Minority Business Center coordinates existing resources in the public and private sectors for minority business enterprises, offers a full range of management and technical assistance services, and serves as a conduit for information and assistance to and about minority businesses. The NMBC also expands existing minority-owned businesses, minimizes business failures among minority entrepreneurs, encourages state and local government to increase contracting with minority-owned businesses, and disseminates construction plans and specification to small and minority-owned businesses.
Established in 1984 through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency, the Nashville Minority Business Center is the leading, oldest and continuously operating minority economic institution in Middle Tennessee. With the leverage of public and private sector resources, the Center has been instrumental in ‘helping to create economic independence for minorities’ for 30 years. NMBC primary program elements include: The One Fund (a low interest alternative capital fund), Minority Enterprise Development Week Business Development Conference, Contractors Plan Room, Management and Technical Assistance, Public Policy Advocacy Initiatives, Education and Training and Community Outreach and Marketing.
2015 MED Week Sponsors include: HCA/TriStar Health, Baker Donelson, Regions Bank, R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation, Crosslin & Associates, Inc., and The Ryman Hospitality Properties Foundation Inc., Nashville Electric Service, AIG, Metro Nashville Airport Authority, Piedmont Natural Gas, Vanderbilt University, and Zycron.