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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Symposium pictures government contract opportunities for MWBEs

Numerous new contracting opportunities in the works through city, county and quasi-governmental agencies were detailed Thursday during the 4th annual “We Mean Business Symposium and Luncheon” hosted by the City of Memphis Office of Business Diversity & Compliance.

Held at the Hilton Memphis Hotel, hundreds of minority entrepreneurs were presented overviews of contracting projects by representatives from Shelby County Government, Shelby County Schools, Memphis Area Transit Authority, Economic Development Growth Engine, Memphis Airport Authority, the DMC and 10 city departments, including Public Works, Human Resources and Information Services.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” said Roby Williams, CEO, Black Business Association of Memphis, as he encouraged entrepreneurs to do business with the various agencies.

Vendor contracts will fill a plethora of needs, including janitorial, construction, marketing, photography, facilitating, technology and engineering services, and include the procurement of essential products such as soap, toilette paper, food, parks equipment, computers and office furniture, to name a few.

Agency leaders are also open to discussing services or products not traditionally contracted, but may be helpful or needed.

Event participants received a useful handbook outlining projects for each agency and city department, including details on how to get certified and registered as a Minority or Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) – governed by state regulations – or a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBA) – governed by federal regulations and required for federal contracting.

The handbook also describes the city’s Bid Training & Procurement Course, the 800 Initiative aimed at growing local MWBE revenues by $50M in five years, and how to support local goods or services through a directory of Memphis businesses that can be searched by name, owner, skill or trade at www.buy901.net.

Following the overviews, The New Tri-State Defender talked with keynote speaker John Hope Bryant, renowned financial literacy entrepreneur, businessman and bestselling author.

“Education, financial literacy, a strong family structure, confidence and appropriate role models,” are five pillars of success for minorities according to Bryant who resides in Atlanta.

“Mediocrity is not acceptable,” said Bryant as he discussed small business ownership and financial issues facing people of color. He added, “Being angry is not a strategy. Are we actually solving the problem is the question and no one still talks about being industrious. ”

During the luncheon, symposium participants absorbed the entrepreneur’s powerful keynote, which concluded with recommendations for Memphis in an “Economic Bill of Rights.”

Among his suggestions, Bryant emphasized credit repair, financial literacy training through the K-12 education system, home ownership, technology training and black business growth and support.

Bryant is founder and chief executive officer of Operation Hope, which not only explains to patrons how money is made spent and saved, but provides one-on-one coaching, giving citizens the tools they need to conquer credit issues, acquire home and business loans and plan for college or retirement needs.

“The program can restore financial dignity when 54 percent of workers are stressed about finances on the job, which lowers productivity,” according to Bryant. “We’re moving credit scores higher,” he added.

Operation Hope programs are currently based in 150 bank branches across the nation, including sites in Memphis at SunTrust Bank, Bank South and First Tennessee Bank, which this week announced its name change to First Horizon Bank — the bank’s parent company.

Free financial coaching for city employees

Beginning July 1, Operation Hope will move inside the workplace at City of Memphis to assist all employees with financial coaching, starting with its sanitation workers.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland who has long known Bryant included the new benefit in next year’s city budget and praised the entrepreneur during a recent announcement of the program.

Bryant is striving to increase Operation Hope sites nationwide from 150 to 1,000 by the end of 2020 to include workplace sites, as well as banks.

In addition to Operation Hope, Bryant serves as CEO of Bryant Group Ventures and The Promise Homes Company, and is co-founder of Global Dignity. The renowned entrepreneur is an advisor to major businesses and government agencies, and has counseled three sitting presidents.

“We Mean Business” was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, which also delivered a presentation on how to become a BCBST partner.

For more information about the City of Memphis Office of Business Diversity & Compliance, visit www.memphis.mwsbe.com.

For more information about Operation Hope, visit www.operationhope.com.

To support local goods and services in Memphis, visit www.buy901.net

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