Workshop: Opportunities for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses

1:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
Washington, DC
The goal of this workshop is to explore how broadband can help certain businesses. According to the US Census Bureau, minority-owned firms are growing four times faster than all US firms and accounted for over 50% of the 2 million businesses started in the US in the past decade. There are now more then 4 million minority-owned companies in the US and the US Census Bureau projects that minorities will become the majority in 2042.
The workshop will explore whether small and disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) are poised to take advantage of broadband technology and its antecedent benefits to help these businesses grow and reach new markets. It will explore whether communities where such small businesses reside are equipped with broadband, understand the value broadband brings to the business equation, and what, if any, role government, educational institutions and the private sector should undertake to assist SDBs to incorporate and harness the power of broadband.



The following are some of the preliminary topics that will be covered at this workshop. If you would like to discuss any other topics, please send us your suggestions.
  • How can broadband be used to spur the growth of small/disadvantaged businesses (SDBs)?
  • What needs to be done to encourage small and disadvantaged businesses to become part of this information and wealth connector highway?
  • Will institutions such as the SBA, Chambers of Commerce, community colleges, etc. need to play a collaborative role in bringing SDBs up to speed on the advantages of resources available?
  • How do we reach non-English speaking or limited-English speaking entrepreneurs?
  • What resources are currently out there in the public and private sector to raise the awareness of this new technology and its associated business benefits?
  • How can we develop a strategic plan and public/private partnerships to insure that these entrepreneurs are not left out of the broadband revolution?
  • What barriers exist to the full integration of broadband by SDBs? For example,
    • financial;
    • social/cultural;
    • institutional;
  • As government rolls out broadband stimulus resources now and in the future build-out, how do we ensure the inclusion of SDB in the future build-out process?
  • How can small, disadvantaged businesses participate in the infrastructure phase such as wiring and building the pipeline?
  • How can small, disadvantaged businesses participate as information and content providers of the service?
  • How does the private sector and other stakeholders work with government and institutions to ensure that SDBs are able to grow and prosper in this environment by taking advantage of this technology?
  • As an SDB, what unique business/community perspectives does it bring to the table in terms of underserved/unserved needs?


1:30 pm Workshop Introduction, Thomas A. Reed, Moderator 
1:35 pm Panel 1: Institutional and Governmental Views (48 minutes: 5 to 8 minutes from each panelist followed by 20 minutes for questions from the moderator & audience).
  • Margot Dorfman, CEO, US Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Dorfman will discuss the challenges women entrepreneurs face in adapting broadband to develop their businesses and what collaborative efforts can be undertaken with educational institutions and others to make broadband literacy an integral part of such growth. 
  • Cheryl M. Johns, Assistant Chief Counsel, Office of Advocacy, Small Business Administration. Ms. Johns will address how and to what extent Small and Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) have incorporated broadband technology into their businesses. She will also discuss what role, if any, the SBA, developmental agencies and others should play in assisting SDBs as they implement broadband technology. 
  • Timothy McNeil, Director of Development, National Conference of Black Mayors. Mr. McNeil will discuss the unique problems African-Americans and SDBs face in rural and urban communities and what needs to be done to bring broadband to these communities. 
  • David Ferreira, Vice President, Government Affairs; US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Ferreira will address the needs of limited-English speaking and minority entrepreneurs and how best to prepare them to take advantage of broadband technologies to grow their businesses.
  • Raymond J. Keating, Chief Economist, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. Mr. Keating will provide an overview of broadband’s potential to reshape and redefine how SDBs can grow in today’s market and address the market barriers confronting SDBs.
  • Mark Gailey, Chairman, Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Telecommunications Companies. Mr. Gailey will discuss how small telecommunications companies in rural America can help transform the potential of broadband into reality with the proper financing.
2:20 pm Open Q&A Period (20 minutes)
2:40 pm Break
2:45 pm Panel 2: A View from SDB Broadband Entrepreneurs (20 minutes: 5 minutes for each panelist followed by 15 minutes for questions from the moderator and audience).
  • Anthony Washington, CEO, Destiny Broadband, Inc. Mr. Washington will address the need for establishing Technology Training Centers (TTC) aimed at SDBs and tailoring the training to address the diverse needs of such businesses in a cost effective manner.
  • Hung Nguyen, Proposal Manager, HCI \ Integrated Solutions. Mr. Hung will discuss how broadband technology has been a boon to some small businesses and how the lack of it has hindered others.
  • Todd Flemming, President & CEO, Infrasafe, Inc. Mr. Flemming will discuss how broadband has transformed his small security business into a major player in the Orlando, Florida region and how innovations and strategic broadband marketing decisions have kept his business one step ahead of its competitors. 
  • JC Coles, President CEO, Broadband Solutions. Mr. Coles will discuss how his company works with underserved/unserved SDBs by providing tailored broadband capacity which integrates fiber optics and wireless to fit the existing and expanding needs of its customers. 
3:05 pm Open Q&A Period (15 minutes)
3:20 pm Break
3:25 pm Panel 3: A View from Traditional Old-Line Businesses in the Age of Broadband (20 minutes: 5 minutes for each panelist followed by 15 minutes for questions from the moderator and audience).
  • Warren Brown, CEO, Cakelove. Mr. Brown will discuss how broadband has transformed and expanded his bakery into a “virtual bakery,” where, inventory, payroll and other business functions are coordinated in cyberspace.
  • Charles Ramos, CEO of CR Dynamics., Mr. Ramos will discuss how broadband has made his call center business located in Baltimore, Maryland, an international information delivery and retrieval system and how further innovations will revolutionize his product offering.
  • Auria Styles, CEO, The Mod Pod, LLC. Ms. Styles will discuss how her internet maternity clothing store with no fixed store location, is able to exist solely on the internet.
  • Cleveland Spears, General Manager and Program Director, Im4Radio. Mr. Spears will use his successful on-line radio broadcasting model to talk about the benefits of reaching untapped markets and groups through broadband technology. He will also express what is needed for this new mode of communication to rapidly excel and become readily accessible to all small and disadvantaged businesses. 
3:45 pm Open Q&A Period (15 minutes)
4:00 pm Closing Statements/Adjournment

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