The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce (WDM Chamber) is set to host the first annual Black and Brown Business Summit (the Summit) presented by Principal Financial Group® on April 22 and 23. This two-day conference was created by the WDM Chamber’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEI Committee) with the goal of elevating ethnic minorities and to bring BIPOC businesses together to assist with connection building, programming, promotion, training and to provide resources to help businesses grow and prosper.
“The goal of the Black & Brown Business Summit is to – Learn, Grow and Thrive,” said Angela Jackson, Chair of the WDM Chamber’s DEI Committee and SVP, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Athene. “Small businesses and businesses of color have been negatively impacted during this global pandemic. The summit aims to provide educational resources, connection to help these business owners grow their business as well as share resources for those who are new entrepreneurs and looking to start a business. We also want to highlight diverse and dynamic successful businesses to encourage others.”
Blanca Plascencia, co-owner of El Fogón restaurants in West Des Moines, has signed up for the summit and is excited to participate. “As a Latina, as a mom, as a woman and as a minority, I am grateful to find resources, information and most important, to see that people like me can do better in this wonderful country”. She said as to why she signed up.
“We need to be united, connected and to help each other, it’s very important to have the professional connections that will help us thrive. As Latino business owners it is important to network to get stronger as a community” she added.
Programming for the Summit includes breakout sessions led by top experts, Mel Essex Award, inspirational keynote speakers and networking. Breakout sessions are divided into two tracks – New Entrepreneurs (businesses in their first two years of operation) and Established Entrepreneurs (business that have been in existence for 2+ years, are established and looking to grow in scale).
Keynote speakers include George Herrera, current Independent Director of the board of Travel and Leisure Co. and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce who helped raise millions to lend to minority small business owners, and Brandon Copeland. Copeland is a starting NFL Linebacker and a Financial Wellness Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, a Real Estate Developer, a Venture Investor, and a worldwide motivational speaker.
The pitch competition, to be held the first day of the Summit and brought to you by exclusive pitch competition partner Hy-Vee, will serve as a chance for 25 to 30 businesses to participate in the workshop. At the end of the day, 5 to 6 individuals from the workshop will be selected to present their pitch to a panel of judges to win a cash prize.
The week prior to the Summit, from April 12 – 18, the WDM Chamber will be hosting Diversity Week, an opportunity for Black & Brown businesses across the state to have their product or service highlighted via social media to elevate their profile and sales.
“We are proud to be partnering with some of the most highly recognized businesses and area leaders in offering this meaningful program for not only our city and state, but also for Black & Brown businesses nationally,” said Katherine Harrington, WDM Chamber President and CEO. “From Diversity Week, the pitch competition, to nationally recognized speakers and in-depth education from experts, we are doing our best to help minority-owned businesses succeed and set them up for growth.”
Tickets for the Summit are available for $15. There are a limited number of tickets available for in-person participation hosted at Athene in West Des Moines. The Summit is following all COVID-19 safety guidance and protocols for in-person guests. Masks and social distancing are required.
Keep an eye out for announcements regarding panelists for breakout sessions and learn more about the Summit on the WDM Chamber’s website.
About the WDM Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce is to champion all things West Des Moines by strengthening our area companies, providing personalized resources and attracting a top workforce to position WDM as the best suburban city in America. With 700+ members, we provide something for everyone. Learn more about the chamber and how to get involved at wdmchamber.org.