Baltimore PRT/AFRO Symposium Explores Strategies for Black Businesses

Surviving and Progressing in the New Trump Age

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The President’s RoundTable (PRT), an organization of Black CEOs, joined the AFRO American Newspapers for a Jan. 19 symposium at the Earl Graves Business School of Morgan State University focused on Black business in the age of Trump.

PRT President Robert Wallace
PRT President Robert Wallace

Titled “Where Do We Go from Here? Strategies for Thriving Economically Under a Trump Administration,” the symposium was opened by Robert L. Wallace, PRT Chairman and president of BITHGROUP Technologies who introduced Jake Oliver, AFRO CEO and publisher. Oliver offered greetings and a reminder of the struggles Black people have faced and the resilience they have shown in the face of a plethora of injustices over the decades.

“… I am excited about the possibilities of everyone being able to begin to develop their own business’ agenda for purposes of …[becoming] stronger,” Oliver said. “We are not going to let this guy knock us down, we are going to win this and he is going to recognize our voice and if nothing else he is going to respect us.” Oliver added that the AFRO’s role will be to foster alliances in the Black community, saying “We have a role to provide the cohesiveness so that it will make our … community stronger.”

The symposium was broken up into three segments. The first segment was an overview of the upcoming political landscape provided by Maryland’s senior democratic Senator, Ben Cardin. The senator didn’t mince words when he told those gathered in attendance that tough fights were ahead.

Sen. Ben Cardin Addresses PRT Symposium
Sen. Ben Cardin Addresses PRT Symposium

“I must tell you the political report is not good, I am very worried about what has happened,” Cardin said. “I say that because I just came from confirmation hearings.”

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“Mr. Trump will become President of the United States at noon tomorrow,” he added. “We all want him to succeed because we want our country to succeed and we will help when he moves in the right direction. But when he does things that are not in keeping with the values of America, when he does things that are just wrong I can assure you that we are going to speak out and act out and do everything we can to protect the progress that we’ve made in this country. That’s a commitment from your political team.”

Part of the large Symposim Audience
Part of the large Symposim Audience

The second segment of the evening’s symposium was an overview of the upcoming business landscape, provided by PRT chairman Wallace.  Wallace’s graphic outlook was one of hope and his message focused on “positioning,” “pivoting” and the importance of forging alliances and partnerships as it relates to business.

Through research of his own, Wallace identified several industries where he expected growth under the new administration. He then focused on the idea of positioning one’s business to take advantage of the expected upcoming opportunities in those areas. Throughout his presentation Wallace hammered home the idea of “Follow the Money,” referring to those areas of business where President Trump allocates funds in his new budget.

Symposium Panel addresses questions
Symposium Panel addresses questions

The symposium culminated with a panel discussion and town hall question and answer session featuring: Wallace; Joseph Haskins, president of Harbor Bank; Sheila R. Brooks, president and CEO of SRB Communications; and Michael Cryor, president of The Cryor Group. The panel and Q&A session were moderated by University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson.