Economic Development, Human Resources, and Nonprofits

Forum focuses on minority opportunities

February 20, 2014
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Forum looks at minority opportunities
Maggie Anderson.

The economic opportunity and empowerment of minorities in Grand Rapids will be the focus of Forum 2014 on Friday.

Forum 2014, sponsored by Local First, is the seventh annual forum of its kind hosted by Partners for a Racism-Free Community, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit working to achieve racial equity in the area.

The event will be Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center.

The emphasis of the event will be “trying to keep local dollars in the community,” said Linda Quist, PRFC’s director of finance and development.

“If you don’t reflect the people that you serve, you stand a good chance of losing that business or not being able to gain new business . . . especially if you’re trying to market to new customers,” Quist said. “It’s proven that when you have a more diverse workforce that you embrace and maintain, you get more productivity and creativity.”


The event will feature two keynote speakers.

Maggie Anderson, co-founder of The Empowerment Experiment, lawyer and activist, will serve as the morning speaker, and Bing Goei, president of Grand Rapids-based Eastern Floral, will serve as the event’s noon speaker.

Anderson is also the author of “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.”

“Maggie's work spotlights an issue that is important for us to understand and address in order to achieve racial and economic equity in our community,” said Emily Loeks, vice-chair of both the Local First board and the Local First educational board. “Her personal examination of the role of local ownership within the black community will expand our perspective.”

Tickets for the event are $55.

Forum 2014 breakout sessions

Courageous Conversations: Mary Hartfield of Girl Scouts Michigan Shore to Shore and Mary Bowers of SpringHill Camps

Best Practices: Bethany Christian Services, Grand Valley State University, Brann's Steakhouse & Sports Grille and St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Unintentional Bias: Tamber Bustance of Woodrick Diversity Learning Center

Hispanic Empowerment: Invest, Engage, and Learn More: Lupe Ramos-Montigny of the Michigan State Board of Education and Martha Gonzalez-Cortes of Gonzalez-Cortes & Associates

Minority Business Development: History & Relevance in Public/Private Sectors: Sean Huddleston of Grand Valley State University

Framing the Relationship between Racial Justice and Health Equity: Denise Evans of Strong Beginnings and Karyn Pelon of Kent County Health Department

Coaching Tips for PRFC Assessment: Lisa Mitchell and Melvene Tardy of Partners for a Racism-Free Community

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