Urban League Stakeholders Meeting Encourages More Minority Businesses To Be Included in Local Projects

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – November 21, 2016 – The Urban League of Broward County recently held its annual stakeholders meeting in which a panel of top Florida CEOs discussed the importance of hiring more small and minority-owned businesses for public and private projects in order to help diversify, innovate and strengthen local economies.

In recognition of National Entrepreneurship Month, the Nov. 14 meeting, with the theme “Economic Development: Small Business, Big Impact,” brought together dozens of CEOs and executives from leading Broward County companies and organizations to learn about new trends in the marketplace, growth challenges for minority-owned businesses, and legally defensive strategies for promoting and increasing supplier diversity.

They also got an update on the launch of Urban League’s new Entrepreneurship Center and Small Business Loan Fund, whose investment of $2.5 million came from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

In addition, Broward County School Board Superintendent Robert Runcie shared an update on the Disparity Study as well as the School Board’s procurement and contracting practices, with a focus on the $800 million SMART Capital Program and minority and women-owned small businesses.

The focal part of the annual stakeholders meeting was a panel discussion with the following leaders:

-- Brian Johnson, President, Broward County Minority Builders Coalition;

-- Bill Hawthorne, Sr. Vice President of Diversity Strategies, Macy's;

-- Franklin Lee, Partner at Tydings and Rosenberg, LLC; and

-- Mark Lizzi, Sr. Vice President, Florida Community Bank.

They stressed the need to “look outside the box” to include more small and minority-owned businesses to stimulate economic development in underprivileged communities. They talked about “changing the rules and policies” and the “culture of businesses” to engage more of these firms in business opportunities in their communities. They also encouraged access to markets, capital and bonding so these businesses could hire more workers and expand in neighborhoods that need considerable investment.

“We had a great turnout at our annual stakeholders meeting and very stimulating discussions on economic development in urban communities,” said Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, president and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County. “This was directly related to our goals at the Urban League of Broward County of focusing on wealth building programs and addressing community needs related to job creation and economic development in Broward County.”

Dr. Smith-Baugh gave a summary of the accomplishments of the Entrepreneurship Center and Small Business Loan Fund, which give entrepreneurs access to money, market and management assistance. Through the program, 44 new businesses were created across Florida, 200 individuals improved credit, 350 small business owners attended the Small Business Summit, and 1,000 people participated in asset-building workshops.

“When individuals are given access to opportunity, they will change their lives,” Dr. Smith-Baugh said.

About Urban League of Broward County

The Urban League of Broward County is a not for profit organization founded to empower communities and change lives. Our mission is to assist African Americans and other disenfranchised groups in the achievement of social and economic equality.  Our “Breaking the Cycle” programs uplift more than 7,000 people every year through affordable housing initiatives, youth development and diversion, employment and training, community empowerment, and civic engagement. Learn more about the Urban League of Broward County by visiting: