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The “Business and Building” Business and Investment ‘Coffee Talk’. "Pooling Resources For Economic Development and Wealth Creation."

On Sunday Morning at 9 AM at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Hotel, I will be facilitating the Business and Investment ‘Coffee Talk’ “Pooling Resources For Economic Development and Wealth Creation.” The 90-Minute Dialogue Session is designed to help us flush out all of the ideas, proposals, and insights you may have regarding the subject of what economic, financial, and investment-related initiative the Community should embrace. The initiative is to be one that not only can make individual participants financially wealthy but one which produces economic development and growth, on the ground, in the Black community.

I have already written about the distinctions I make, and the concerns I have, about the most popular ‘flavor of the month’ approaches to real estate investments, for example, which have indeed created paper assets and put money in the pockets of numerous Black individuals, couples, and families, but which have not been channeled into any real economic development that can affect a larger mass of Blacks. That does not mean that, as we speak, these individuals, couples, and families aren’t ready to take the next step with their newfound wealth or aren’t actively doing so, in some cases.

We can discuss this dynamic at our Session, perhaps. It is relevant to where the American and Black economy is headed in upcoming years.

We are open to discuss a litany of issues like:

Where Is The Real Estate Investment Boom Headed? What Forms Of Community Development Can Come From Various Housing Strategies? Are Blacks Missing The Boat On The Rise In Commodity Prices? What Could Be Done With The Million March Economic Development Fund? What Fiscal Policy Should Black Investors Seek? What Can Be Done To Provide Greater Access To Capital For Black Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners? What Are The Legal Forms Of Organizing Community-Based Financial Groups and Wealth Creation Institutions?

My personal suggested initiative is that we:

Establish An Investment Club With Its Deposits At A Black-Owned Bank Where Monthly Contributions Are Made By Its Members And At A Time Certain, Investments Are Made In Businesses, Financial Markets And Land.

My suggested initiative carries as much weight as any other and will have to survive the process of Dialogue, and the debating and testing of the strategy and tactics associated with it. It also will have to win the support of an initiative Team, and the majority support of the Initiative Body.

Let me explain, as we are moving from individual expression and into collective action and community.

To give an example of how the collective will 'think' and work, here are more details on the process any idea will have to go through if it were to be accepted as an initiative. It should make clear how important this Weekend is, and the leadership role attendees will have in evolving our community. Information, Education, being opinionated, and critical and creative via the Internet is one thing. But turning that foundation into a community that can get busy in the streets, the board room and cyberspace, as individuals and a unit, is another.

We are looking for a critical mass of our viewers who are ready to go to the next level in making power moves in political activism, issue advocacy, entrepreneurial and community development and high-level business deals. It is time for those who have spoken the loudest, and with the most authority over the years, in our forum, to step forward as leaders and show and prove. And it is also time for the most quiet and reserved to become more comfortable and confident and realize that the skills, talents and interests that they have and perhaps, offer in the service of others, are badly needed.

We need you all to join and support one another in a good work.

All of us who are informed and educated on the condition of our people and who something to offer to make things better really have a responsibility at this troublesome time, to step forward.

As for the process of how we will work together, first, as I have mentioned previously there is:

The Nine –Step Process: The means by which the community will be formed around initiatives is the foundation of 1) Information 2) Education 3) Dialogue 4) Personal Familiarity Through Interaction 5) Agreement, 6) Operational Organization, 7) External Negotiation, 8) Public Information and 9) Mobilization.

What this means for my proposed Black Bank Initiative or any other is that it is my responsibility (or the interested person) to introduce the idea through information (1) and some education (2) regarding it. This would consist of verbal statements and literature with facts and interpretations regarding the issue, cause and impact of what I propose. Then we enter into a verbal and written Dialogue (3) about it, where questions are asked, the idea, strategy and tactics associated with it are tested, debated and discussed. Then we fall back off of the details and analysis and consider who among us might be best qualified to lead and jump-start work on such an endeavor, and in what roles. This can’t be done without us getting to know one another (4) so resumes can be looked at, if desired, but maybe more fundamentally the informal interaction of the Weekend should begin a process of networking that will reveal details about each other that are relevant to operational unity. This process will continue on and off line after the event through phone, e-mail and chat session. We will ask for the names, bios and resumes of those interested in serving on a three or five person Initiative Team. And the entire body will be asked to vote and rank those on the list. We will us the Cumulative Voting System where each voter is given a fixed number of votes (5) to distribute among one or more candidates allowing them to express their intensities of preference rather than simply to rank candidates or have to vote for just one. FairVote explains how it works: an election for a five-seat body, voters could choose to give one vote each to five candidates, two votes to one candidate and three to another, or all five votes to a single candidate. If a members of minority group work together and get behind a single candidate, "plumping" all of their votes on him or her, they can hope to get someone elected, even if they only make up a small share of the population. Voting rights scholar Lani Guinier has promoted cumulative voting as a colorblind means to provide fair minority representation.

From this process we will select the top three or five vote getters to form the Initiative Team Board.

Then, through a very easy business plan writing process, which the students at Black Electorate Economics University are familiar with, and which will be thoroughly explained, anybody participating in the ‘Coffee Talk’ Session will be encouraged to write a two to three page plan to be submitted to the Initiative Team Board. The Initiative Team Board will have the responsibility of reviewing and commenting on all of the plans submitted and will vote the top three of them ‘out of committee’ for a final majority vote by the entire Body. The Body is everyone who participated in the ‘Coffee Talk’ Session.

For transparency sake, every plan submitted will have the Initiative Team comments and vote regarding it made public to the Body, and any interests that a person on the Initiative Team might have in any particular initiative voted ‘out of committee’ must be disclosed (think in terms of what now is a regular part of media appearances on financial shows - like CNBC and Bloomberg - where a person being interviewed on-air has to tell the person interviewing them whether or not they or the institution they represent owns the stock they are discussing, or has an interest in it)

All of this – from selecting members to serve on the Initiative Team, to having the 2 to 3 page business plans submitted, to having the Initiative Team vote, and then a majority vote from the Initiative Body represents the stage of Agreement (5).

Next comes the stage of Operational Organization (6) where we put the execution team together – from within the Initiative Body and outside of it, necessary to work the selected plan.

Then, and only then, do we begin to represent the Initiative and Negotiate (7) its reality with external institutions.

We then inform the community once everything is in motion and in place and we present the Initiative for the support and wider participation of the Community.

But the early players and leaders on any such Initiative, who will shape it, are those who participate in the ‘Coffee Talk’ Session.

So what would this mean for my Black-Owned Bank initiative?

It means that on October 28th and 29th I will be networking and discussing what I have in mind with some at the Mixer, and then in the Dialogue Session, and then at the Private Bowling Party. It means that I will continue to build - by phone and e-mail - with said individuals.

It means that I will be sharing information regarding why we need to set up an investment club, how it works, and why we need to endorse and bank with a Black-owned commercial bank. It means I have to explain the individual and collective benefits that will accrue to us and our people as a result.

Then, I have to, a bit more formally, submit my idea, strategy and tactics to a process of scrutiny, testing and debate. I also need to determine whether I see anyone at our event or Sessions whom I think would be an ally in executing the initiative. That or those individuals may figure in my thinking regarding the Initiative Team and 2 to 3 page business plan I will have to submit for review. My relationships with those in attendance might make my plan stronger. I also have to be mindful of how the Dialogue process that will continue through phone, e-mail and chat sessions , after the Weekend, for a limited period of time, will affect how my proposal and that of others is perceived and received.

In the event that my proposal is accepted we would move into an exciting range of activities – everything from meeting with Bank officials, negotiating the deal, and leveraging the power of the website behind a national and locally relevant effort to make money, and develop the Black community and economy.

So, hopefully this makes it clear that what happens this Weekend is very important but only a beginning to the evolution of the critical mass ready to become a tangible factor of power.

Here is the after-Weekend schedule (For all Initiatives) that should make that clear (All Of The Below Steps Are Exclusive To ‘Coffee Talk’ Session Participants):

1) A Thirty (30) Day period of on-line, off-line and telephone Dialogue among ‘Coffee Talk’ Dialogue Session Participants.

2) A One Week Period For Nominations To The Three or Five Person Initiative Team.

3) A One Week Period For Nominees To Campaign For Votes Followed by An Election.

4) A Two-Week Period To Submit Plans For Review.

5) A Two-Week Period For The Initiative Team To Make Comments and ‘Vote Out Of Committee’ Three Plans.

6) A Two Week Period For The Body To Vote On The Top Plan.

Within 90 Days (3 Months) after the Weekend We Will Have Selected An Initiative.

The Initiative Team then takes two weeks to organize the team of execution, and then another two weeks to negotiate with external institutions.

Within 120 Days (4 Months) after the Weekend We Will Announce The Selected Initiative Before The Community and Mobilize Support.


You can register for the “Business and Building” Weekend and the Business and Investment “Coffee Talk” today at:

Note: Please Remember There Are Only Advance Ticket Sales For This Event.

Cedric Muhammad

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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