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Broward County hosts the 2015 Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference

BROWARD-COUNTY-HOSTS-THE-20Broward County hosts the 2015 Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference

National Urban League President Marc Morial presented the keynote address during the Conference’s opening ceremony for the 2015 Annual Airport Business Conference on June 13, at the Urban League of Broward County, marking the first time in the conference’s 31-year history that such an event was held in a community venue.

By Charles Moseley

      Since taking over the helm as Presidency of the National Urban League 12 years ago, one of Marc Morial’s mantras has repeatedly been “JOBS, JOBS, and more JOBS!” He did not stray away from that recurring theme during his keynote address at the Opening Ceremony for the 2015 Annual Airport Business Conference. Preliminary events and panel discussions at the Conference began on June 12; however, June 13 marked the official start of the Conference, at a reception hosted by the Urban League of Broward County (ULBC), at its local headquarters. This was the first time in the Conference’s 31-year history that the event was held in a community venue, taking place in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s African American community.

“I want to say thank you and congratulations to all of you, to all of the men and women who I know with the strength and determination with sacrifice have built businesses- built enterprises, provided jobs, took a risk – fell down-got up; kicked butt, got their butts kicked, all the above. If one in three small businesses in America created a single job today, we’d be at full employment in the United States,” said Morial.

Job creation is not a cliché. It’s not rhetoric. It’s not just a talking point. But if you in your own way make just one drop on the pond to create a single job.  If one in every three small business creates a job then five mill-ion more people will be employed,” added Morial.

According to, the Airport Minority Advisory Council(AMAC) is dedicated to the promotion and participation of minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises (M/W/DBEs) in airport contracting.

As the only national, non-profit trade association dedicated to this purpose, AMAC has two primary goals: to eliminate the barriers to minority and women participation in the airport industry and to capitalize on the opportunities available in this multi-billion dollar industry.

Courtney Thornton, Airport Minority Advisory Council’s (AMAC) 2015 National Conference Chair, Vice-President Partner Relations & Business Diversity, Hudson Group commented on the purpose of the Conference.

“South Florida is a beautiful venue. Everybody wants to come to this sunny place. I can’t think what would make a more beautiful venue, but make no mistake about it – even though we’re in a beautiful venue, we are still about the business of strategizing and advocating for minorities in airport contracts.”

Sandy McDonald, director, Broward County Commission Office of Economic and Small Business Development elaborated on the importance and impact having AMAC officials here at the Conference to directly interact with small business owners at the Conference in Broward County.

“This Conference is a major opportunity for women and minority businesses particularly here in Broward County.”

“The AMAC has been around 31 years. Last year they hosted their 30 year anniversary in Denver, Colorado. Back in 2010-2011, Broward County was progressive enough to ask them to come to Fort Lauder-dale and they agreed so we’re here hosting the 31st year. And the best thing about AMAC in Broward County, it provides an opportunity for us to get upfront information about how minority and women businesses have the opportunity in and around airports across the country. So having all the AMAC representatives here in Broward County-Fort Lauderdale is major for our community.”

Gary Blanchard, Principal Architectural Design Services Unlimited located in Conyers, Georgia a suburb of Atlanta, is among the estimated 5,000 conference participants attending the Conference.

“I’m a new member of AMAC. I’ve been truly impressed from the corporate side where partnership works. You’re looking for people to partner with which is very important for me to grow my business and so just that opportunity to network has been unbelievable.”

Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness attended the conference’s opening ceremony. He stressed the importance of South Florida being known not just for its beaches. He noted that the area was a hub for international trade, citing the airport and the port for providing major economic opportunities on a global scale. He also said South Florida was one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world.

“It’s not just about the beach in South Florida. In South Florida we have 5.5 million people; more than many states, more than many countries in the world. So we have a huge economy here. We’re connected to the rest of the world with three international airports within one hour from here and three deep port sea ports within one hour of each other. We having one of the top custom’s trading districts in the country, with a surplus over $15 million and that’s because of our connectivity to Latin America and the Caribbean. We want you to look to the rest of the world for opportunities for business. That’s the major goal for us here in Broward County, for us going forward, and that is to look to international trade with the rest of the world.”

Whether you’re an architect or restaurateur, in public relations or in the transportation business, there just might be an opportunity waiting for your company to do business with an airport in your town or in multiple airports, in cities across the nation.

Airport executives and entrepreneurs presently doing business with airports con-verged upon Broward County for their 2015 Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference scheduled from June 12-16, at the Harbor Beach Marriott Hotel. The theme for this year’s conference was entitled, “Business Beyond the Beach”-Elevating Global Opportunity.

During one of many panel presentations entitled, “Airport Concessions: How They Work and Is It the Right Opportunity for You executives encouraged perspective  airport vendors to think big and  be prepared to meet the challenge, if and when they get an opportunity to do business with an airport. They also stressed is one of the key to success; in addition to having a thorough knowledge on the vending process, maximizing your networking opportunities, and making sure your company can meet the demands required to do business as an airport services or goods provider.

Ronald Gomes, vice-president, Strategic Alliances was a panelist during this session. He provided some insight on how to go about being a successful business partner at an airport joint venture. He gave the following advice to those interested in doing business with at an airport facility.

“The biggest mistake I see among small businesses is that they think too small and they focus too much on trying to stay small. And they lessen their opportunities by coming in with that with that mindset.

Gerri Lazarre, a CPA with Tri Merge Certified Public Accountants and Consultants participated in one of the many informative panel discussions.

“I thought the session was very informative. It helped me increase my knowledge base. It also helped me to know what the Primes were looking for and also educated me on the process that I was sort of oblivious too. I also thought that good getting real live thought processes, thinking aloud what the Primes were thinking in terms of being a partner.”

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