Annual Back To Business (B2B) Conference A Success

Left to right: Mary Parker, President and CEO All(n)1 Security; Greg Smith, President, Atlanta Street Food Coalition; Jovita Moore, Anchor, WSB-TV; Ceasar C Mitchell, President, Atlanta City Council; Leticia Maspons Willis, President, Willis Mechanical; and David Perry—Deputy Director, Georgia District Office, US Small Business Administration

PHOTO COURTESY OF COUNCIL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE

ATLANTA – Hundreds of Atlanta-area small business owners converged on city hall for Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell’s annual Back To Business (B2B) Conference, presented in partnership with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

B2B was a free conference, where small business owners gained valuable industry training while networking with representatives from the Atlanta Falcons; Home Depot; the Coca-Cola Company; and local, state, and federal agencies among others.

The conference included a panel discussion on the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium Project and on the goals outlined in the Equal Business Opportunity plan.

The City of Atlanta’s Office of Contract Compliance, the Atlanta Falcons organization, and the stadium construction team were on hand to discuss the plan to achieve a minimum of 31 percent participation by small, minority, and women-owned business enterprises in the design and construction of the new stadium.

“Relationships are very important and therefore networking is very important and that’s the reason we created the Back to Business Conference,” said Council President Mitchell. “Our goal is to help small business owners establish the relationships that are critical to expanding their business. As the economy continues to improve, small business will lead the way in job growth, innovation, and productivity.”

Each year, the Back to Business Conference is an occasion for small business owners to meet face to face with procurement officers from public-and-private-sector organizations to learn about business opportunities.

“B2B opens the door to opportunities for local small businesses to grow and prosper,” said Torre Jessup, GSA Regional Administrator. “GSA is honored to partner with Council President Mitchell and SBA, continuing our long-term commitment to help small businesses achieve success.”

“SBA is proud to be a sponsor for this conference with the City Council President and GSA” said Terri Denison, SBA’s Georgia District Director. “This event brings together for area business owners key success elements: information, resources and opportunities.”

Over 80 exhibitors from the public and private sectors were on hand to discuss specifics about what opportunities currently exist with their organizations, as well as to provide advice on how small business owners can grow their business.

In addition, WSB-TV news anchor Jovita Moore moderated a panel discussion on the role of entrepreneurism in today’s business world.

Participating agencies included the Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot, Office Depot, Delta Airlines, Fulton County, Chick-fil-A, Porsche Cars North America, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Atlanta Housing Authority, the Georgia Department of State Purchasing, and Georgia State University Small Business Development Center.


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'Justice Is Going To Come!'

BY DAVID STOKES

Although it has been nearly one month since 18 year old Michael Brown, Jr. was fatally shot by a policeman in Ferguson, MO, on Saturday, Aug. 9, the suburban community of St. Louis continues to be passionately ignited for his assailant, Officer Darren Wilson, to be brought to justice to answer and offer official details that led to Brown's killing. Furthermore, as Brown's family laid him to rest following a two and one-half hour funeral service last week on Aug. 25, in which the Rev. Al Sharpton eulogized the teen, the Justice Department, along with local Missouri agencies, continues its investigation into the nature of causes leading up to the killing of one of eight young black males since 2012.

At the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, on last Monday, nearly 5,000 from near and far went to the St. Louis church to remember the "Christ-like young man" who ultimately "prophesied his death" two weeks before that fateful day last month, according to his stepmother Cal Brown. Among the local and national personalities attending the emotional-filled homegoing service were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), syndicated radio host/the "voice of black America" Tom Joyner, civil rights activist Martin Luther King 3rd, Bishop T.D. Jakes, actor Spike Lee and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), along with respective family attorneys Benjamin Crump and Darryl Parks of Tallahassee, FL. During the service, justice for Michael Brown was the recurring theme by various speakers and preachers who approached the podium as Brown's casket, adorned with a spray of roses and a St. Louis Cardinals cap, remain closed. Nonetheless, mourners and program speakers voiced their continuous anger toward police who are "killing our black boys and men," with Brown's uncle, the Rev. Charles Ewing, emphasizing, "There is a cry coming from the ground—not just for Michael Brown, but from the Trayvon Martins, the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, those from the Columbine massacre and for black-on-black crime." Additionally, it was the Rev. Al Sharpton who laid bare to all with moving to essentially "challenge and set forth to change" this nation's policing policies. "Someone has to answer for Michael Brown's death," the New York City-based National Action Network founder and president exclaimed to thunderous applause. "We should be outraged for our disrespect on each other, as well as by those who disrespect our existence. We've got to clean up the black community to clean up America. No one will help us if we don't help ourselves." Sharpton ended the thought, "We need to push for change and stop sitting having ghetto pity parties." However, while "Mike-Mike" Brown's last image was that of him lying in the street, face down and lifeless on Aug. 9, dead of four gunshots to the chest and a fatal shot to the head by Officer Wilson, protest marches filing the streets of Ferguson, from Aug. 17-Aug. 22, brought attention—once more—of young African- American males, in particular, being otherwise targeted by the police, in general, only to wind up being killed by an aggressive or over zealous law enforcement cop. Prior to Brown's killing last month, Ezell Ford of Los Angeles, Errol Davis of Tallahassee, Fla. and Trayvon Martin of Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, along with six others in between, have been prominently displayed for Americans to view as victims, or martyrs, of an unjust system of criminality disproportionately afflicting the black family unit and the victims' untapped, prospective potential. "People will know my name," Michael Brown said, according to Brown's stepmother, Cal, during remarks by the family. "He kept saying, 'People will know my name,' not realizing or knowing it would mean (his own demise)." Later in his eulogy, the Rev. Sharpton emphasized, "While Michael Brown is resting now, we must change America and its policing," accompanied by indicating to listeners, "What does God require?," and proclaiming, "The value of Michael Brown's life must be answered by somebody." In his remarks, attorney Crump stated, "Michael Brown was an American citizen, and we will not accept three- fifths justice for him," alluding to the U.S. Constitution where blacks were once counted as three-fifths of a man for voting purposes. "Full and complete justice will be given for Michael Brown's life," Crump concluded. Sharpton adjourned his statements that "Justice will come; justice is going to come for Michael Brown. Death will not be the final word."

The federal investigation continues this week as Officer Wilson remains on administrative leave with pay. Also, a grand jury in Ferguson, MO, on Aug. 21, was seated to determine whether Wilson should face felony charges of murder or manslaughter. Meanwhile, the Ferguson community continued to hold protests in the street—though not as dominantly volatile as in weeks past last week—and forums in schools and community events, including one, on Aug. 26, at Harris-Stowe State University, the HBCU located in St. Louis, 30 miles from Ferguson, MO. Additionally, while the Mo. National Guard officially left Ferguson on Aug. 27, parents of black male teens, in particular, are weary as, according to Associated Press reports, children, as well as teens of color, are afraid of the police, in general, following Brown's untimely death by Officer Wilson. Furthermore, in related information revealed at a town hall meeting last week at Harris-Stowe State, over $2.5 million dollars was received by the city of Ferguson in 2013—"the second largest revenue source for Ferguson," according to News One Now—from black locals paying court fines and/or other court fees, i.e., "off the backs of the poor," remarked a Ferguson resident. "We must take this moment in time, although tragic, and make it a movement in honor and memory of Michael Brown, Jr.," the resident proclaimed. "We cannot allow Brown to have died in vain."


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