Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship for Over 30 Years

Q: While many of our MBE magazine readers are selling internationally, many others have yet to look into exporting. What advice would you give these firms?

Griffin: First of all, it’s important to note that more than 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers live outside the United States. If a U.S. company is only selling their products or services domestically, it’s like leaving money on the table. In my travels across the United States as Deputy Assistant Secretary, I’ve visited many successful exporters who can attest to the value of exporting, not only in boosting the bottom line, but also in making their firms more competitive. Several of these business persons and entrepreneurs have also noted the importance of exporting in diversifying sales and taking advantage of opportunities in the global economy. In the last few years, our offices have seen an upward trend in the number of worldly and business savvy entrepreneurs who are preparing their firms to go global.

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Chicago in the 60’s, specifically 1968, was in what many termed, civil and economic mayhem. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed in April, and the ensuing riots decimated much of the city’s Austin neighborhood, leaving 11 dead and many more injured and arrested. Efforts to end housing discrimination, that began just two years before, were just beginning to take hold. The 1968 Democratic Convention devolved into what became known as the “Battle of Michigan Avenue,” mainly due to opposition to the Vietnam War.

That year, in the midst of the turmoil, a group of corporate and community leaders, took a stand to mend their city, and created Chicago Business Opportunity Day, a trade fair focused on economic empowerment of minority business enterprises. In 1969, the event evolved into the two-day Chicago Business Opportunity Fair (CBOF), which led to the formation of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC). Today the CBOF remains the signature event of the MSDC network, and in 2017 they will host the 50th Annual Business Opportunity Fair on April 20-21.

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Hoyt Hsiao joined his father’s general contracting business, Shaw-Lundquist Associates Inc. in 1987, looking to make a difference but never considering that someday he’d take his father’s place and oversee the entire operation. Almost three decades later, not only is he the company president and CEO, but he has also steered his father’s company through one of the most brutal recessions in U.S. history and propelled it into a multimillion-dollar business—one of the 20 largest general contracting firms in Minneapolis/St. Paul and one of the largest Asian-owned contractors in the United States.

In contrast to Hsiao’s entrepreneurship path of following in his father’s footsteps, Kevin Narcomey didn’t have those same opportunities growing up as a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. However, he is charting his own course as founder and CEO of Osceola Consulting , a leading management consulting and information technology services focused on the energy and utilities industry.

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The lodging industry is ripe with business opportunities representing a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and abroad. Household names like Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, MGM, Choice, and Wyndham to name a few are expanding, introducing new concepts, engaging in mergers and acquisitions, and reshaping revenue models from corporate-owned properties to enlisting licensing, joint ventures, and franchise models. New and innovative companies like AirBnB have created instant lodging alternatives and are chiseling away at local hotel market share in major cities around the globe.

Hotel companies have shifted from delivering ideal consumer “stays” to “experiences.” Earning guest approval or better yet, loyalty, may arguably be one of the most challenging achievements to sustain in the hospitality business. A hotel ecosystem is not limited to workforce, supply chain, and operations anymore. It encompasses more strategic partnerships with developers, entrepreneurs, investors, and curators of guest experiences. This represents abundant opportunities for minority business enterprises.

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MBE Resource Center

MBE's Business Opportunities resource covers business-related financing, consulting, and programs available for the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs. Updated monthly.

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MBE's M/WBE Resource Directory is a comprehensive list of resource organizations (including links) that support the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs.

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Refer to MBE's Acronyms & Terminology list for frequently used acronyms and terminology and an overview of the major organizations supporting the Supplier Diversity community.

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