NAACP Economic Empowerment Workshop is Standing Room Only Success


Commissioner Lumon May presents NAACP a personal check to the NAACP President.

There was standing room only at the NAACP Economic Empowerment Workshop held at St. John Divine Baptist Church on Saturday April 9th.  The Economic Development Committees of the State of Florida and the local Pensacola Branch teamed up with the Gulf Coast African American Chamber to sponsor the successful business development oriented workshop. The local branch president, Eladies Sampson, brought the welcome for the workshop, as she played a strategic role in following up with the speakers on their presentations for the event. The Florida State Conference Economic Development Chair, Tory Alston, also brought greetings and a welcome from the NAACP State Conference.

Pensacola City Councilwoman Jewel Cannada Wynn made her presentations on government opportunities for African-American companies to take advantage of like the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) Program with approximately $70,000,000 being managed by the City of Pensacola and Escambia County controlling a projection close to $200,000,000 over the next 10 years.  Parks, recreational centers, and sidewalk projects can become strong income generators for small Black-owned businesses.

County Commissioner Lumon May presented on the economic development and job creation strategies that he has pushed for on the Escambia County Commission. May focused his attention on the unique City of Pensacola Minority and Women-Owned Business (M/WBE) Program as a goal for Escambia County to achieve by implementing a minority business disparity study. He, additionally, spoke on the new preference in the Escambia County Procurement Program for businesses located in the Escambia Community Redevelopment Areas (CRA’s).  Commissioner May presented Eladies Sampson, the local branch president, a personal check as a contribution to the local NAACP.

Then it was city and county staff’s turn to make the detailed program presentations. Pensacola Mayor Aston Hayward’s Economic Development Empowerment Coordinator, Rebecca Ferguson, presented a comprehensive view of economic development from both the city’s and the private sector’s perspective as she sits on the Florida West Board of Directors. She presented Florida West as a strategic player in the economic growth of Pensacola, Escambia County, and the region.

Claudia Simmons, the Escambia County Procurement Director, followed with a more detailed presentation on the County’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program that Commissioner May focused on.  Next, it was the City of Pensacola’s M/WBE Program Manager, Hosea Goodwyn, who took center stage to describe the City’s new minority and women business development program. Goodwyn, a military veteran, placed an emphasis on minority and women-owned businesses becoming certified with his office to participate in the City’s contract procurement opportunities.

Following the presentations by both government procurement managers a clarification was made by Tony McCray, the NAACP Pensacola Branch Economic Development Chairman, to emphasize that Pensacola runs the only M/WBE program from Tallahassee to Houston. He made it clear that Escambia County operates a Small Business Enterprise program and must do a minority business disparity study to implement a M/WBE program like the City of Pensacola.

Wells Fargo was well represented by Tammy Davies, Vice President Business Banking Manager who described the various banking services provided by the bank. She develed into the specifics of business financing through Wells Fargo and was well received by the attendees.

The workshop then moved to a working luncheon format with Gulf Coast African-American Chamber Executive Director Nicole Dixon presenting on the technical assistance resources available through her organization. Dixon, the African-American Chamber, with Robert Hill at WRNE Radio were key partners in the success of the workshop.

The panel of local small African American business owners continued the working lunch portion of the workshop.  The business owners included the Pensacola Voice Publisher, Jacqueline Miles; The Gathering and Book Center owner, Georgia Blackmon; Rodney Jones owner of New World Cleaning, LLC; and LePoleon Williams of Polimbatree, Inc. a performing arts company.

The NAACP Pensacola Branch plans to issue a follow-up report on the next activities planned to take advantage of the new business, community, and individual relationships established at the workshop, as there were representative from Mobile, Alabama, Ft. Walton Beach and Port St. Joe, Florida at the event.

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