The Institute Blog

The Latest News in Economic Development

Talent is Not Enough

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There’s a great saying in military training that, “Hard work beats talent when talent is not working hard enough.” If that’s true, it’s no wonder that so many talented individuals are still struggling to get ahead and to make their business idea a success. Truth be told, there are millions of talented people still hoping and wishing for their dreams to come true. While there are some folks with basic skills and average ability who get up every day and hustle—learning the necessary skills, getting the necessary training, and putting in the necessary effort—to make positive things happen. And like it or not, they are often the ones who get what they want out of life, because they’ve already figured out that talent alone is not enough. They realized (sooner rather than later) that achieving their goals not only requires talent, but also skill, passion, dedication, drive, and perseverance.

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Global Uncertainty Can Offer Big Opportunities

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Did you know that global trends can directly affect owners of small, woman- and minority-owned businesses? In some instances, M/WBEs feel that global trends and cycles do not directly affect them; that they are somehow immune to the effects of circumstances playing out internationally. However, that is not the case—especially when smaller companies are seeking opportunities to grow by supplying products and services to multinational corporations.

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Making Business Connections Work

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Most small business owners recognize that creating partnerships or joint venture relationships with other businesses can expand capacity and open up new opportunities. This recognition is further echoed by government and corporate supplier diversity leaders that encourage businesses to consider these collaborative strategies to reach the scale necessary to pursue larger contracts. Based on this information, many small minority- and women-owned business owners may ask themselves, ‘Who can I partner with to expand the reach and opportunities for my company?’ Although this is a great question on the surface, oftentimes companies seem to approach partnering relationships like millennials at a nightclub on the dating scene.

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Grow Your Business With Exporting

Illustration of business import-export

To encourage minority-owned businesses to look at exporting, several federal government agencies are now offering programs and assistance designed to make the transition easier through financing, training, and technical assistance. These resources can help companies shorten the learning curve for doing business outside of the U.S., and can provide assistance to help businesses make the move successfully.

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STEMming the Tide of a Lack of Minority and Women-owned Tech Businesses

STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

The underrepresentation of minorities and women throughout the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries is well-documented. Numerous initiatives have been created across the country to address the issue through K-12 educational curricula, afterschool and community-based programs, and adult programs designed to retrain workers for new careers in STEM industries. However, despite the effort, these programs have garnered little success.

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Social Media Success

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For anyone who has been in business more than a decade, the new social media reality represents an entirely new world of ubiquitous and non-stop posts, pins, likes, texts, and tweets. When added to an already full plate of professional responsibilities, the sheer volume of information and activity can oftentimes seem overwhelming. However, for the savvy marketer or business owner, the power of social media also represents an amazingly cost-effective opportunity to reach new customers, retain existing customers, build a strong business brand, and broaden a company’s scope and appeal on an international stage.

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The Power of Collaboration

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During team-building workshops and seminars, motivational speakers and sales trainers often quote sayings like: “None of us is as good or as strong as all of us;” or “There is no ‘I’ in team;” or “No man is an island.” Those phrases capture a common theme that “more is better.” More people. More ideas. More resources.

As it stands, minority businesses are outpacing other groups in overall business expansion and growth rates. A 2012 national survey of small business owners indicated positive post-recession growth for minority firms since 2007. Analysis by The Institute showed that African American-owned firms expanded their employee numbers at a higher rate than that of white employer firms; with white firms adding employees at a rate of 1.7 percent and black firms adding employees by 9 percent over the same period from 2007 to 2012. However, according to a recent report from the Minority Business Development Agency, that level of growth has not equitably translated into sales and revenue or job creation. For example, in the state of North Carolina, although African American businesses totaled 83,919, the average gross revenue posted was $64,614; with 5,600 employer firms and a total of 58,100 paid employees.

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‘Striving and Thriving’ in a Value-Based Ecosystem

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The conversation was all about business at The Institute’s 2016 Executive Networking Conference, highlighting the theme: Striving and Thriving in a Value-Based Business Ecosystem—featuring a panel discussion about business opportunities between the private sector with statewide leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). ENC 2016 was hosted by The Institute, Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, and Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. at The Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 14-16. The conference included a Wednesday evening welcome reception, daylong business workshops and panels on Thursday, and a series of discussions about HBCU business opportunities on Friday.

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‘Striving and Thriving’ Is Focal Point at The Institute’s 2016 Executive Networking Conference, April 14-16

ENC 2016 - Striving and Thriving

Friday Sessions to Focus on Business Opportunities with HBCUs

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DURHAM, N.C. – It’s all about business at The Institute’s 2016 Executive Networking Conference, highlighting the theme: Striving and Thriving in a Value-Based Business Ecosystem – and featuring a panel discussion about business opportunities between the private sector with statewide leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). ENC 2016 will be hosted by The Institute and Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council at The Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 14-16. The conference includes a Wednesday evening welcome reception, daylong business workshops and panels on Thursday, and a series of discussions about HBCU business opportunities on Friday.

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The True Measure of Progress

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On March 19, 2016, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Texas Western Miners’ victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in the men’s basketball national championship game. This game made history as the first time a championship team started a game with an all-African American lineup. What made the game even more significant was that the coach of the opposing team was Adolph Rupp of the Kentucky Wildcats. Rupp was rumored to be a devout racist, had an all-white team, and was the last coach to integrate in the Southeastern Conference. When the Texas Western Miners won the game 72-65, not only did they completely dispel any myth that black players were unequal or inferior to white players on the basketball court, but they also demonstrated how far blacks had progressed in American society.

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