The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce held their annual legislative ‘Welcome Back’ reception at the Doubletree Hotel, Wednesday, March 4.
Since the Big Bend’s establishment, the Black Caucus has been a major supporter. This year they announced that they have merged along with the Women’s Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus.
The BBMCC was created to align corporations with minority and women-owned businesses, and to promote state contracting among the minority community. Their charge is to help larger corporations find qualified minorities to work with and make sure they are working in important positions.
The BBMCC is relatively new, and has been doing great work over the past few years supporting local, homegrown minority-owned businesses throughout Leon, Gadsden, Franklin, Jefferson and Wakulla counties.
Sean Pittman is the Chairman and founder of the BBMCC. He wanted to guarantee once these relationships were made, there was an inadequate amount of support making sure each organization knows how to work with the other.
“I wanted to put together an organization that would have a grass root approach to helping minority and women-owned businesses connect with larger businesses and corporations,” said Pittman. “Many of these larger corporations have the same alternative goal, but don’t have a trusted voice to direct them to ones that would do an incredible job.”
Since its creation, minority legislators from all over the state come together for 60 days. Within their stay, they encourage people to participate and spend with minority vendors here.
The reception serves as an opportunity for these legislatures to meet with constituencies in a different type of environment; one that might spark open- dialogue and, open communication.
It gives the corporate partners a chance to spend time with members of legislature that are making decisions on important public policies and laws.
Senator Dwight Bullard always looks forward to the reception because he can be face- to- face with the public.
“We want to make sure what we’re doing falls in line with the interest of the people, and not really be driven corporate or personal interest,” said Bullard. “We really want to cut at the issues to the people that look like us.”
The BBMCC has been very inclusive of other minority chambers and has always worked very closely with the elected officials of the Women’s and Hispanic Caucus.
Senator Oscar Braynon II, the incoming minority leader for 2016-2018 Senate, looked forward to the official merge.
“If we’re talking about minorities in general we have to include all minorities,” Braynon said. “It makes us speak with a louder voice when we ask for the same rights.”
Among the sponsors like, Mark Robinson, CEO of Capital Regional Medical Center, and Jim Lewis, regional vice president and general manager of Wal-Mart, were in attendance.
“What they’re doing in terms of really trying to encourage and support minority and women-owned businesses is something that we’re very much excited about,” said Lewis. “Although we are a financial contributor, we also work with the organization in terms of making sure that their members have an opportunity to talk with Wal-Mart in terms of selling their products.”
Although not a member, Mayor Andrew Gillum has supported the BBMCC since it’s founding.
“As the mayor of the city, its extremely important to me that we have a vibrant minority business ecosystem in the city of Tallahassee and the Big Bend region,” said Gillum. “They’re [BBMCC] providing a voice for advocacy and representation for minority-owned businesses in this area and it’s a great thing.”