White House Urban Entrepreneurship Summit:  Part One

By: ellis j. still

“Entrepreneurs work 18 hours a day so that they do not have to get a job”

         – John Hope Bryant, summit closing speaker

On Monday, June 6th, 2011, I participated in the White House Urban entrepreneurship Summit. When I first got the invitation to attend, I was blown away by the fact that I would be able to not only attend such an event, but to be able to provide feedback on my experiences as an entrepreneur as it relates to formulating federal, state, and local public policy.

The event was held at Newark, New Jersey’s Rutgers University Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED), in partnership with the White House Office of Public Engagement, the White House Domestic Policy Council, Office of Russell Simmons, The Office of the Honorable Corey Booker, Fund for Public Advocacy, Operation HOPE, Small Business Administration, Startup America Partnership, and featured a host of panelists & speakers. The event was broadcast via live streaming through the White House’s website.

Photo Courtesy of Valerie Mason-Robinson

Over 40 panelists, speakers and facilitators participated in the summit, with approximately 600 people in attendance (according to the Star Ledger). To summarize, the goal of the event as described by the organizers centered on “President Barack Obama’s vision to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world. The purpose of this event is to discuss best practices with urban entrepreneurs and hear their feedback on how the Administration and the private sector can best support their growth and success in the global economy.”

Russell Simmons was the keynote speaker.   To summarize his address, “Entrepreneurs have ideas that no one believes will happen. Operate from the comfort zone that you already have everything that you need to succeed. The imagination is God. If you have enough of it, things will happen. If you have enough Faith and resiliency, it will happen. Use that creativity to serve underprivileged communities.”

There were three panelist sessions and one series of three breakout sessions. The topics include:

  • Unleashing Ideas: Barriers and Challenges to Urban Entrepreneurs
  • Investing in Urban Entrepreneurs: Creating Funding/Financing Urban Entrepreneurs
  • Business & Government: Cross-sector Solutions to Spark Entrepreneurship and Startups in Urban Communities

There was also a series of special announcements. One of which was by the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) “the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership and 550 Broad Street negotiated a deal this past Friday to open a 9,000 square foot small business office center at 550 Broad Street, Newark, NJ. The facility will offer low cost virtual, cubicle and fully furnished office spaces in addition to conference rooms, training space, lounge space and shared administrative support. Facility members will be nurtured in a supportive, entrepreneurial environment designed to accelerate business startup and next level growth.”

Much was discussed at the summit, so rather than trying to include everything in one post, I decided to create a series of short blog posts that paraphrases the discussion points of each session.  If you were at the White House Summit, or if you are an entrepreneur or author entrepreneur (independent author), feel free to add your feedback to the summit. If you were not able to attend, you may still feel free to mention your challenges in entrepreneurship as well.

Question: Did you know that if everyone in the United States hired one person, there would be no unemployment? What is stopping you from using your passion and your God given gifts to start your business?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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