By Harry C. Alford
I will be 67 years old next month. For nearly half of those years my wife, Kay, and I have been stand-alone entrepreneurs. Times can be bad, good, great and catastrophic, depending on how you look at it. For us, 2014 will go down as a very good year. Challenging, yet rewarding in regards to the upcoming prospects.
Our twin sons presented us with their first post graduate degrees. Thomas received his Masters in Communication Management from the University of Southern California (mighty Trojans). Harry brought home his Masters in Sports Management from Georgetown University. They immediately kept the pace up. Harry is in the MBA program for Babson University while Thomas is enrolled in the MBA program at John Hopkins University. They also successfully completed the sale of their first business venture, Lacrosse Playground. Side money is now coming from their individual consulting service. They are fast becoming the best investment Kay and I have ever made together. I see this bundle of “tools” being applied to the growth of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC).
Procurement activity among our members has taken off with lightning speed. Central and South America have been the most active. Liquid Nitrogen Gas stations are up and running in Colombia. Solar heating farms now exist in El Salvador. A gold mine has been commissioned in Surinam by NBCC members from Maryland, Mississippi, Colombia and principles in Spain. Deep Water Port activity is now taking place in Nigeria, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. An actual resort city is in the planning stages in Ghana.
Our San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce has put together a consortium to link a portion of the high speed railway in Northern California – $1.5 billion of infrastructure. Oh yes! We have learned how to do this and are putting it to practice. Cuba is about to open up and we are more than ready. To say that in 2014 we have taken it to a new level would be a major understatement.
The organized threat against the NBCC by the White House has apparently ended in failure. We have stood firm against the back alley Chicago style dirt. Marching forward and rising as we step – God is truly great! We continue to be the strongest Black business association in the world with exponential continuing growth.
The organized attempt to kill the coal industry has ended in a heap of ashes. Technology breakthroughs, a very friendly free market and astute investments are making this sector not only survive but grow and take a firm position to lead America to more affordable energy providing wealth for investors, jobs for workers and lower prices for consumers. There is no other nation on earth as strong as the United States when it comes to energy reserves and exporting. All of this accomplished with the fiercest of adverse regulation and evil policy making.
Our Department of Education continues to fight against free enterprise with its attack on for- profit colleges and universities. Confusing policies such as Common Core Curriculum and a hatred of charter schools reminds me of the late singer Curtis Mayfield, “taught by fools from uneducated schools.” Let us close the Department of Education, which was another crazy idea started by former President Jimmy Carter.
Our Internet activities over the past 15 years have propelled our nation to forefront of communications throughout the world. This is a proven example of the virtues of free markets and less obstructive government. However, we seem to have a Federal Communications Commission eager to do something counter-productive and anti-capitalistic. Let us continue to make great strides in Telecom with good policy and less adverse regulation and rule making.
Yes, 2014 had challenges but we were ready and seized the opportunities as they emerged. And 2015 promises to be an even more exciting year. Fortunately, we are prepared and are making changes to our board of directors and management structure that will make our managerial ability even more prudent and sharper than ever before.
A meeting in Paris next April during Fashion Week is planned. A formal visit with our sister association, Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (36 nations), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will be soon confirmed. Our 23rd annual conference is set for August 6- 9 at the new Margaritaville Beach Resort in Hollywood, Fla.
We will have organized Capitol Hill visits where we will plead our positions on various current matters and encourage positive change and support from our elected officials. Advocacy is what got us here and continued advocacy is what will keep us in the forefront of world leadership. In addition, NBCC leadership will visit various chapters to support their local efforts and add credibility to their agendas. Yes, 2014 was a good year but the best is yet to come.
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.