The Obama administration, leading non-profits and business experts gathered at Rutgers University’s Newark campus on Monday for the Urban Entrepreneur Summit to help minority entrepreneurs find ways to foster wealth within their communities.
The event was a rare forum that allowed minority entrepreneurs to witness personal narratives of other successful minority entrepreneurs and obtain fundamental advice from both policy makers and investment entities.
“There is an urgency in America that is making this day not juts good but needed,” said Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Booker and other public officials highlighted the importance of transforming new ideas into wealth, benefiting from both the entrepreneur and his community at-large.
“Too many families in these communities are still struggling and we need to create more jobs,” said Don Graves, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. “Entrepreneurship is critical to job creation, and it’s critical that the entrepreneurs that have the innovative ideas today will be able to turn those innovative ideas into the jobs of the future,” he added.
To make sure this initiative becomes certain, the Obama Administration, along with various non-profit organizations and start-up incubators, discussed steps they have taken to empower minority businesses and attempts to dilute some of the entrance barriers caused by tax codes, credit screenings, and even basic filing procedurse.
Derek Douglas, who serves on the White House Domestic Policy Council discussed different policies the current administration is trying to implement on behalf of minority entrepreneurs.
“We’re doing a lot of different things such as tax credit structures, small business resources, and alike to try to create more incnetives and grants and planning for state and local folks,” said Douglas.
Douglas, however, emphasized the nation’s tight economic budget, and highlighted the importance of taking advantage of policies that already exist. “We’re trying to get the most out of resources we have, make them more flexible and effective for minority businesses and communities. We’re trying to put them to good use on the ground.”
Summit attendee Donna English, runs a New Jersey based bakery, and said before starting Just Deserts by Sparkle, she didn’t imagine the roadblocks she would ultimately face as both an African-American and a woman entrepreneur. However, she believes the summit has strengthened her business awareness, and has motivated her to elevate and expand her business.
“I’m with other entrepreneurs that are in the same situation I’m in,” said English, referring to what she gained from the summit. “It’s helpful when you want to throw in the towel, it’s when someone says something encouraging that helps keep you going.”