Written by Robby Thomas

On April 20th, 2018, visionary Dr Kenneth Robinson, Pastor of Dream Life Worship Center, in Randallstown and a host of leaders in business, government and non-profit sectors hosted an economic empowerment conference at Morgan State University Business Center. The two-day conference featured world re-known speakers and authorities on the issue of economic empowerment, wealth and human potential. Dr Robinson opened the conference with an overview that touched on the purpose of the gathering and shared some thoughts on what he hopes can be accomplished going forward. He stated that, “this is merely the beginning of a movement that will empower people all over the country.”

Les Brown addressed the conference, (in a way that only he can), by sharing with the audience the importance of being able to sell your story. Clark Atlanta University, Professor and author of “Think and Grow Rich a Black Choice”, Dr Dennis Kimbro, (one of the reasons I attended the conference), talked about the wealth choice and what makes the great great. And the phenomenal Dr Cindy Trimm,presented on understanding the concept of money.

There were 18 specific empowerment workshops available to attendees. They included real estate development, how to do a business plan, how to repair your credit, crowd funding, how to start a non-profit, home ownership and e-commerce for your business. The presenters were all knowledgeable and the workshops were very engaging.

One of the more unique groups to present at the conference were the Parris Construction Group LLC, a women-owned real estate development company based in Baltimore. With more than 20 years of real-estate construction experience under their belt, the company exhibited their grace and grit. Unlike similar companies in the space, Parris’s willingness to share their insights, experiences and expertise with the community about the real estate business sets them apart. Expert presenters included Lola Thompson, who provided content on “How to build a real estate investment business.” Lola was very knowledgeable on the subject and gave attendees a great overview of the various options for building a real-estate business, from turnkey to development. Presenter Lorette Farris, addressed the issue of raising capital through crowd funding. Ms Farris, occupies a rare skill set in this Fin Tec space as a crowdfunding expert, sharing insights on a relatively new phenomenon. Putting both key real estate pieces together certainly made for extremely relevant content, especially for the city of Baltimore. Parris Construction Group also showed their engagement savvy by offering a free 20-minute consultation to attendees from the workshops.

During the break between sessions, Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine Pugh, spoke at the conference sharing her vision for the city. Mayor Pugh shared her economic development strategy and discussed ways in which her administration intends to approach the challenges that Baltimore faces.

Although attendance at the conference was not at capacity, the contingent that were represented took advantage of the opportunity to build their knowledge base and professional networks. One of the remarkable observations I made throughout the conference was the underlying emphasis placed on realizing our dreams and full human potential. This idea was seamlessly shared within the context of practicing our faith. Overall, what too often sounds like a contrived conversation in the context of faith, sounded much different in this faith-based economic empowerment effort. In fact it was refreshingly energizing and well…empowering. To the organizer’s credit, this event underscored a notion of economic empowerment that includes faith but was built on practical learning, strategizing and work.



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