This week I participated in the MMBC Continuum 2012 Economic Development Forum at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The focus of the forum was how best to help African American and women-owned small businesses. When speaking, I discussed the respect and admiration we all have for our nation's founders. But I also noted their flaws. We needed historic rulings like Brown v. Board of Education to help right many wrongs and we still have a long way to go to establish a more perfect union. I was also proud to welcome and introduce Michael Masserman to the forum. He is the Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy at the International Trade Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Just last month I welcomed David Hinson, Director of the federal Minority Business Development Agency, to Memphis for the ribbon cutting ceremony for Tennessee's first ever Minority Development Business Center, located in downtown Memphis. Director Hinson praised my three year effort to bring the Minority Business Development Center to Memphis, stating, "Congressman Cohen was persistent, persuasive and professional." The Memphis Minority Business Development Center will provide a hand up -- not a hand out -- to African American and women-owned businesses. It's been a continuing three year effort with Luke Yancy -- President & CEO of The MMBC Continuum -- to bring this center to Memphis and I'm pleased to see it open here.
The Memphis Minority Business Development Center will help expand opportunities for capital, contracting, new markets, workforce development, and counseling. This center will help African Americans and women by providing the resources they need to help grow our economy, create jobs and will be one of the keys to Memphis's economic future.