Week-long celebration offers resources for minority-owned businesses

Kerry L. Kirkland, deputy secretary for diversity, inclusion and small business opportunities for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, speaks during the 2017 MED Week kickoff breakfast. — (Photo by Abdul Sulayman, for the Philadelphia Tribune.)

By Ayana Jones

PHILADELPHIA — The upcoming Minority Enterprise Development Week celebration will focus on connecting Philadelphia’s minority-owned businesses to resources that can help them grow.

For one week, local business organizations will host various events around this year’s theme, “Moving the Needle.”

MED Week, which runs Oct. 7-11, will feature more than 35 events around Philadelphia, including educational workshops, interactive panel discussions and one-on-one coaching.

“The city of Philadelphia is committed to ensuring that all of our residents are provided the opportunity to succeed and thrive,” Iola Harper, deputy commerce director for the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) said in a news release.

“MED Week is a vital tool used to encourage economic equity in Philadelphia by having government and partner organizations come together to provide resources, training, tips, and connections to local minority businesses. We want these businesses to not only be aware of the opportunities available to help them grow, but also be prepared to take them on. Philadelphia’s continued economic growth depends on the success of all businesses.”

Earl Harvey will hold a Pre-MED Week reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Community College of Philadelphia, Winnet Student Life Building, 502 N. 17th St.

During the event, Joel Wilson from JCW Computer Services will receive the Grassroots Award, which is presented annually to an individual or organization providing leadership and advocacy to support minority-owned businesses.

The reception will feature an address by Jo Muse, founder of Muse Communication, one of the first multicultural agencies specializing in campaigns specifically targeting audiences from various cultural backgrounds.

His experiences led him to tackle the issue of race in his debut novel, “Mixed Blessings: Is Race Real?” Muse will lead a conversation on marketing and sign copies of his novel during the event.

“What I’ve come up with is an idea of better explaining what we do as human beings in terms of creating the distinction race and how we can help eliminate the whole notion of what race is, and still operate with humanity and fairness in the marketplace. I call that race work,” Muse said in an interview with the Tribune.

“I’m going to talk about that and tying it into the multibillion-dollar marketing and communications business and how everything is set up in that business as if there is specific ethnic groups and races and that doesn’t stimulate competition. In fact, it doesn’t empower people of color to have a larger role in the business.”

His presentation will address how everyday human beings can make a difference in distinguishing between the illusion of race and doing the things that people do in terms of racial pride.

“I want to point people in the direction that there are certainly differences we have and we need to honor those differences, but our commonalities are so much stronger that the idea of race as a political and behavioral mechanism is an illusion,” Muse added.

OEO will host a MED Week kickoff awards reception from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 7 at Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, 100 N. Horticultural Drive. The event will honor Black Professionals News Publisher Earl Harvey as the 2019 OEO Champion and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as the OEO Advocate of the Year.

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Julianne Malveaux, economist, author, founder and president of Economic Education, and former president of Bennett College for women, will serve as the keynote speaker. Following the reception, attendees can participate in the “Open for Business” expo.

The annual celebration of minority businesses is co-chaired by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, the African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency and the Women’s Business Enterprise Center.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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