The Black Engineer of the Year Award and STEM conference, a program once exclusively tied to Baltimore, will be held in Philadelphia in 2012, officials confirmed.

“Philadelphia was extremely interested in the opportunity to host BEYA,” said Al Rutherford, managing partner of Rutherford & Associates, the meeting and conference management firm that handles BEYA’s arrangements. “They came to the table with very competitive rates, including a minimal rate for the use of their convention center.”

While the City of Brotherly Love seemed willing to roll out the red carpet for the annual celebration of Black students and professionals in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, Rutherford said, Baltimore didn’t show them the same love. That’s the same reason why BEYA organizers decided to relocate its 2011 conference to Washington, D.C., after 23 years in Charm City.

Tyrone Taborn, president and CEO of Career Communications Group, which has organized the annual conference since 1986, told the AFRO in a 2009 article, that the move was precipitated by a “lack of political or business community support.” This, he said, despite the conference’s yearly attendance of more than 3,000 participants and the generation of between $8 million and $9 million in revenue for the city, according to estimates by the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

“They took our business for granted,” said Rutherford about the powers that be in Baltimore.

“We gave Baltimore every opportunity to better their competitive offer and they didn’t,” Rutherford told the AFRO. “They gave us the same offer they made in 2011. But if you lost 2011 with that deal, why would you offer it again for 2012?”

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO