DOW JONES INVESTS IN BLACK ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR 1990'S AND BEYOND
ATLANTA, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- When Dow Jones and its flagship publication, The Wall Street Journal, teamed up last April with historically black Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and Spelman College to sponsor the first Black Entrepreneurship in America national forum, it was pursuing a long-term business goal, according to John W. Coston. director of corporate markets. Similarly, Coston maintained, when the Fortune 500 firm pledged $1 million last fall to help establish entrepreneurial studies programs at CAU and Spelman, it was simply "providing capital to help ensure achievement of that goal." The goal is to increase the company's penetration of minority consumer and business markets. Although unique, both initiatives underwent the same hard-nosed, bottom-line scrutiny that the company routinely applies to every new business proposal. Nor was the potential publicity a deciding factor, according to the 21-year veteran of the Dow Jones organization. "Good press is just icing on the cake," he emphasized. "We don't make major business moves without carefully considering the bottom-line impact." Dow Jones takes pride in being on the "cutting edge of business trends," said Coston, whose employer also publishes Barron's Magazine, other periodicals and community newspapers, as well as providing a variety of electronic business news and information services to customers worldwide. In fact, reporting issues that affect the domestic and international business and financial communities is one of the company's primary responsibilities to its customers. The initiatives at CAU and Spelman, he said, are directly linked to such issues. "Our data tell us that minority businesses will provide a growing share of our customers, employees and business associates now and in the 21st century," Coston explained. "Our investment in the national forum and the entrepreneurship centers at Clark Atlanta and Spelman tracks with our overall marketing strategy. Ultimately, it's an investment in the future of Dow Jones & Company -- an investment with a very substantial return." Enlightened self-interest notwithstanding, however, the concept of responsible corporate citizenship does figure in, according to Peter R. Kann, Dow Jones chairman and CEO. "It is our belief that the successes of black entrepreneurs have received too little national attention," he said. "This forum can help focus a national spotlight on these successes." Kann added that the concept for the forum was brought to him by Donald Miller, vice-president-employee relations for Dow Jones, and Joseph Boyce, senior editor of The Wall Street Journal. Harriet R. Michel, president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, praised the Dow Jones initiatives. Michel points out that both are far too new for any accurate assessment of long-term impact, but said she is pleased that a major corporation chose to highlight the role of African-American businesses and encourage black entrepreneurship. "Black businesses often experience challenges that are not necessarily experienced by other minority businesses," Michel explained. The 20-year-old council and its 45 affiliated chapters nationwide serve small businesses owned and operated by Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and African-Americans. The organization's primary goal is to promote mutually productive relationships between minority business enterprises and majority-owned firms, including its 16,000 minority suppliers and 3,000 corporate members.
FORUM DRAWS NATION'S TOP BUSINESS PEOPLE
The first Black Entrepreneurship in America: A National Forum substantially exceeded expectations, according to Coston. The event attracted more than 350 participants, including some of the nation's top entrepreneurs, business leaders, government officials and educators. Conference speakers included: Terrian B. Bryant, vice president of the International Franchise Association; John L. Clendenin, chairman of BellSouth Corporation; Robert L. Johnson, president of Black Entertainment Television; and Joshua I. Smith, head of Maxima Corporation and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Minority Business Development. Among speakers from the public sector were: Jack Kemp, secretary of housing and urban development for the Bush Administration; John Lewis, congressman from Georgia; and Maynard H. Jackson, mayor of Atlanta. "Last April's conference was an enormous success due in large measure to the cooperation and participation of many African-American business and political leaders, corporate executives and educators, plus other officials from the wider corporate community," Kann said. The company plans to build on that success this year with an encore performance, co-hosted again with CAU and Spelman College. Scheduled for Feb. 18-20 in Atlanta, the 1993 forum will focus on ways to overcome what black entrepreneurs identify as their biggest hurdle --e ideas. In conjunction with the forum, The Wall Street Journal will publish on Feb. 19 a second special news report on black entrepreneurship. The report, focusing on capital constraints and investment opportunities, will feature results of a Wall Street Journal/Roper poll of black business owners. Net proceeds from the conference and advertising in the news report will be donated to CAU and Spelman as part of the $1 million pledge by Dow Jones, which will be shared equally by the two schools. Each institution received $250,000 in 1992, with the same amount to be awarded this year.
UNIVERSITY LINKS BLACK ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BLACK EMPOWERMENT
"The black community will never take its rightful place at the economic table in this country until we are generating enough wealth to speak from a position of strength," insisted Dr. Edward D. Irons, dean of the business school at CAU. The route to that "rightful place at the economic table" is black entrepreneurship, according to Irons, who was a professor of banking and finance at CAU in the 1980's before becoming superintendent of banking for the District of Columbia. In July, 1990, when Irons returned to CAU as the new dean of the business school, he came with a plan in mind. "There are 300 formal entrepreneurship (studies) programs nationwide, most organized in the past 10 years," he said, but none at historically black colleges or universities. The new dean decided it was time to remedy that situation. To do so, however, he had to face another problem, one all too familiar to black schools -- lack of funds. Fortunately, about the same time, Dow Jones was developing its own interest in helping to nourish entrepreneurship in the black community. Equally fortuitous for Irons, the company had a particular interest in working with schools at the highly regarded Atlanta University Center complex, which includes CAU, Spelman and other historically black institutions of higher education. Spelman College, a private school for women, is implementing a program of studies that will emphasize issues associated with business ownership by women. When CAU established its center last fall, according to Irons, it became the first black educational institution with a formal program in entrepreneurship. Plans call for introducing the first courses with the beginning of the 1993-94 academic year. The center will be headed by Dr. Dennis P. Kimbro, a scholar and author whose work has focused on black economic empowerment.
CREATING A CLASS OF WEALTH-PRODUCING BLACKS
Kimbro's first book, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice (Ballantine Books, 1991), is based on his extensive research on the subject of wealth and poverty in the United States, including interviews with a range of successful African-American business people. The book was a best-seller among black readers. "We want to show students that entrepreneurship is an option," said Kimbro, who shares the dean's commitment to black economic empowerment through black business ownership. "The center's long-term goal is to create a wealth-producing class of African-Americans." According to Kimbro, the center will serve students in the master's in business adminsitration degree program. A broad curriculum will emphasize planning, launching, and managing small buisnesses. Kimbro predicts that at least one-fourth of the school's more than 150 MBA candidates will enroll in courses offered by the center. "These are bright students, and our charge is to feed, challenge, and stimulate them intellectually," Kimbro said, explaining that the MBA program attracts students from around the country. In addition to course work, the center will offer a lecture series and an entrepreneur-in-residence program that will bring seasoned executives to campus to teach and network with students. A continuing education program will extend the center's reach to aspiring entrepreneurs from corporations and the community. And a summer workshop will cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit in promising minority high school students. Another priority is establishing a data base and a repository for publications and video presentations on minority firms, small businesses, and economic organizations.
CAN ACADEMIA TEACH ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
As some business executives are quick to point out, academic theories about the business world may be one thing -- and reality another. Can entrepreneurial studies really prepare students for owning and operating their own businesses? One seasoned black business owner who thinks so is Lance H. Herndon, founder and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based ACCESS Inc. During the 13 years since Herndon went into business for himself, his information consulting firm has enjoyed considerable success -- Fortune 100 clients, steady revenue growth and a staff today of more than 60 full-time professionals. Nonetheless, Herndon says, the CAU Center for Entrepreneurship is a resource that could have helped him in the early days with developing business plans, managing capital, marketing services, and networking with experienced business owners and potential clients. Herndon, the entrepreneur, agrees with Irons and Kimbro, the educators. The mission of creating wealth in the African-American community depends on encouraging a tradition of black entrepreneurship. Or as Michel of the National Minority Supplier Development Council put it: "Economic empowerment is synonymous with entrepreneurship." That, says Coston of Dow Jones, is where the economic goals of black America converge with the business objectives of corporate America. Entrepreneurship is the road to creating jobs and wealth, he explained, which in turn produce the affluent customers, able employees, and capable business associates that corporate America needs. "If I may alter an old adage," Coston said, "you might say that, when it comes to economic empowerment -- 'what's good for the black community is good for the business community.'" For more information on Black Entrepreneurship in America: A National Forum, 1993, call 800-225-9259. -0- 2/1/93 /EDITOR'S NOTE: Photos available upon request./ /CONTACT: John W. Coston, director of corporate markets for Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 212-416-4044/
CO: Dow Jones & Company, Inc.; Clark Atlanta University; Spelman
College ST: Georgia IN: SU:
RA-BR -- AT007 -- 1439 02/01/93 13:53 EST
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|Date:||Feb 1, 1993|
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