- Created on 19 June 2013
Local small business owners will have the chance to attend Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell's Back to Business (B2B) conference for business advice and networking opportunities.
The free conference, which is in its second year, brings small business owners together for informative session on how to help their businesses grow and thrive. The conference will offer attendees the opportunity to network with representatives from a number of large corporations including the Atlanta Falcons, the Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot and more. So far, more than 550 people have registered for the event.
"This is the Council President Mitchell's second year hosting this event, and he made a conscience decision to do it bigger and better this year because of its success in 2012," said Nikki Frenney-Wiggins, Council President Communications Director. "Businesses that participated last year have regularly contacted the Council President to share how the conference helped them secure a business deal thanks to the networking opportunities available at the B2B."
The Atlanta Falcons will be present at the event to discuss the requirements and resources small businesses will need to do business at and around the new downtown Falcons stadium.
"I am excited to have the Falcons support this event and to have the organization share with the business community its ideas and plans for increasing opportunities for local small businesses with the stadium project," said Mitchell. "This panel discussion is sure to be engaging and enlightening, as well as a must attend for any business looking partner with the Falcons on mutual business endeavors."
The General Services Administration has also partnered with Mitchell to help make this year's B2B Conference a success.
"B2B provides a forum for GSA to support local small businesses, while also equipping them with the information they need to do business with the federal government," said Saudia Muwwakkil, representative for GSA. "Small businesses are an important part of the work GSA does and on behalf of federal agencies and the American people."
The event will take place from 9 a.m. until 3pm at Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue, SW. There is no charge to attend the conference.
Last year's exhibitors included the City of Atlanta, DeKalb County, Georgia Power Company, Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Georgia State University Small Business Development Center, The Army Corps of Engineers, and Georgia African-American Chamber of Commerce to name a few. Organizers say they expect this year's turnout to be even larger.
- Created on 19 June 2013
He really is more than a businessman.
Jay-Z’s partnership with Samsung for his new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” is another sign of how musicians are finding new ways to push, sell and promote their music, and how the multiplatinum performer — who famously rapped “I’m no...
- Created on 18 June 2013
"I was tired of giving in."
- Rosa Parks
It is always interesting to reflect on certain events that took place in days gone by, especially when it comes to economic issues. In my entrepreneurship classes, I often use the example of the Montgomery bus boycott to illustrate a very important lesson we could (and should) take from those strong, dedicated, and committed brothers and sisters who walked until their demands were met. Some 42,000 bus riders walked to work for 381 days. Not only was their action exemplary and admirable, it also offers a very important lesson in economic empowerment.
Here's what I mean. Let's assume the bus fare in Montgomery at that time was 20 cents roundtrip. We know the bus boycott lasted for 381 days. Multiply 20 cents times 381 times 42,000. The answer: $3,200,400. How many buses do you think could have been purchased with that amount of money in 1956 when the boycott ended? Do you think the people could have bought a factory and produced seats, or tires, or signs for those buses? How about opening a maintenance facility to service the buses? Get the picture? Do you see the lesson?
Suppose those who walked to work had put their bus fare into a common fund every day as sort of a savings account for Black folks. If they had done that, in addition to withholding their money from the bus company, they would have had $3,200,400. In 1956 that was a great deal of money and could have created great economic change.
While there are many other lessons we can learn from and take advantage of today, the Montgomery issue stands out because of a story I read in the Toledo Journal many years ago titled, "Restored Rosa Parks Bus heads for new home." As I read it, I could not help but think about the above-mentioned numbers because the article cited the purchase of the bus by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.
The bus was found in a field, rusted and riddled with bullet holes. The museum paid $492,000 for it and spent $300,000 more for its restoration. With $3.2 million, not only could the bus boycotters have bought a fleet of Black-owned buses, they could have also bought the Rosa Parks Bus. Do you see the irony here? Do you see the lesson? Now if you want to see that bus, you'll have to pay an admission fee to the museum. It's like I always say, "Many of us prefer symbolism over substance."
Even though our "leaders" have waited nearly 50 years to tell us that economic empowerment is what we must seek and fight for, it is vital that we take our lessons whenever and wherever we can find them. We must remember that things always boil down to economics in some form or fashion.
I don't know about you, but I think we would be much better off today if we owned a few bus companies, the way Blacks did with the Safe Bus Company in Winston-Salem, N.C. rather than having to pay to ride on someone else's. I think Rosa Parks would have been happier and would rest easier if, for instance, Black people manufactured and owned the school buses our children have been riding for decades.
I would much rather go to Detroit and ride a Black-owned bus than to go to a museum and pay to see the bus that Rosa Parks and others rode in 1955. It may be a piece of history, but it's still just a bus, an inanimate object that played nothing more than a passive role in what we now call our struggle for equality. Someone made a few hundred thousand dollars from the sale of the bus. Someone else made another $300,000 to restore it. And the museum continues to make who knows how much because people want to see it, to board it, to touch it, and to actually sit in the same seat in which Rosa Parks sat. As Don King says, "Only in America!"
I appreciate the willing spirit of those who sacrificed, walked, fought, and subjected themselves to the Bull Connors of this nation. It would be a tribute to them if we would use their lessons to economically empower ourselves. Celebration and nostalgia are fine, but what we need now are ownership and control of income-producing assets, such as buses, museums, supermarkets, hotels, and gas stations.
Is anybody out there willing to start an equity/investment fund? Is anybody out there ready to put some money into it? Is anybody out there willing to support the businesses developed by such an effort? Or, are we satisfied with simply making others wealthy by spending our way into economic oblivion? I don't think Rosa Parks would want us to do that. She was tired of giving in, so she defied the status quo. Are we tired enough to make a similar change in our economic behavior?
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation's most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.
- Created on 18 June 2013
(NNPA) – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that enforces federal employment discrimination laws, filed lawsuits against BMW and the discount retailer Dollar General alleging that the companies broad use of criminal background checks discriminate against Black applicants and employees.
According to the EEOC, BMW fired dozens of Black employees at one of its plants in South Carolina during "a transitional period" that required employees to re-apply for their jobs. A BMW contractor performed criminal background checks that exposed criminal convictions that prevented the employees from getting rehired. The Washington Post reported that 70 Black employees lost their jobs through the process.
"One woman with 14 years under her belt was let go after a misdemeanor conviction surfaced that was more than 20 years old and carried a $137 fine, according to the EEOC's lawsuit," the Washington Post reported.
Dollar General withdrew job offers to two Black women after running criminal background checks. One woman had a 6-year-old drug conviction, but Dollar General disqualifies applicants for that type of conviction for 10 years. Dollar General showed little consideration for the fact that the woman also listed experience working at another discount retailer for four years on her application. The other woman said that her criminal history report contained errors, including a felony conviction. Even after Dollar General management learned of the errors on the report, the retailer still refused to change their decision, EEOC said in a statement.
Fair employment advocates say that errors on reports and incomplete records make it difficult for companies that rely heavily on background checks to make informed decisions.
"There's so much information that's out in cyberspace these days about criminal history records that employers have to be extremely careful about how they evaluate any one report," said Ray McClain, director of the Employment Discrimination Project for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a group that advocates for equal justice for all through the rule of law. "They need to use a consumer reporting agency that is very careful about not reporting erroneous information."
The EEOC filed the lawsuits based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and national origin, after the groups couldn't reach settlements. A statement by the EEOC said that the agency will seek back pay and to enforce additional standards to prevent future discrimination.
"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees on account of their race," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien in a press release. "Since issuing its first written policy guidance in the 1980s regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, the EEOC has advised employers that under certain circumstances, their use of that information to deny employment opportunities could be at odds with Title VII."
McClain said the BMW and Dollar General will have a hard time showing that there is any business necessity for excluding the Black workers that meets the standards of Title VII.
"The law requires that the employers show that they have proof that the requirement that they are imposing, that has such a disproportionate impact on minority workers, is job-related and consistent with business necessity," said McClain. "The biggest problem is that [the companies] are cutting off their noses to spite their faces."
McClain continued: "They're excluding people who have perfectly satisfactory work ethics in the same job for no reason at all except for the fact that this person made a mistake a long time ago."
Instead of excluding workers by using criminal background checks, McClain said employers need to participate in more job fairs and services that target the formerly incarcerated. .
A study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, titled, "Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility," showed that when ex-offenders find jobs, "they are more likely to be able to pay restitution to their victims, support their children and avoid crime."
Yet, even when they do find legal employment, the stigma associated with their former incarceration follows ex-offenders into the workplace.
According to the Pew study, "By age 48, the typical former inmate will have earned $179,000 less than if he had never been incarcerated."
That stigma has a greater negative impact on the earnings of Black ex-offenders compared to White ex-offenders.
The Pew report said incarceration slashes the earnings that Black men would have made through age 48 by 44 percent. Incarceration erases half of what a White man would make through age 48.
A study titled, "The Mark of a Criminal Record, published in the American Journal of Sociology found that "whites with criminal records received more favorable treatment (17%) than Blacks without criminal records (14%) with criminal records when it came to receiving callbacks for employment opportunities.
The study also found that the Blacks were more likely than White to be asked about prior criminal history even before submitting applications.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in cooperation with The Legal Action Center, and the National Workrights Institute issued a report titled, "Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring" to help companies avoid running afoul of EEOC hiring guidelines.
The report detailed a number of recommendations and advised employers to:
- Consider only convictions and pending prosecutions;
- Consider only convictions recent enough to indicate significant risk;
- Do not ask about criminal records on application forms;
- Use a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA) to conduct record checks; and
- Confirm all information from online databases with original source information.
The report also said that employers should consider evidence of rehabilitation when evaluating ex-offenders for future employment.
"People change over time. Some people with criminal convictions change their lives and become good citizens who can be good employees," said the report. "Applicants with relevant convictions recent enough to be of concern should not automatically be rejected. Instead, he or she should be given the opportunity to present evidence of rehabilitation which the employer should carefully consider before making a decision."
- Created on 17 June 2013
General Motors today appointed Gerald Johnson as North America Manufacturing Vice President, effective July 1. He will lead a team of more than 74,000 employees who work in 56 facilities including assembly, stamping, powertrain and component operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
"Gerald's proven leadership, experience and passion for product quality will serve him well in this role," said Tim Lee, GM vice president, Global Manufacturing and president, GM International Operations. "He leads by example as a mentor and strong communicator, engaging his full team to ensure we build only the best for our customers."
Johnson's most recent role was executive director of Global Program Quality and Launch, where he led several key quality initiatives to improve global product launches. His 33-year GM career has included many leadership positions in labor relations and manufacturing, including an overseas assignment in Zurich.
Johnson holds a bachelor's degree in Industrial Administration from Kettering University and a master's degree in Manufacturing Operations from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He succeeds Diana Tremblay, who was named vice president of GM's new Global Business Services group.