Legislative Weekend Conference Aims to Build African American Wealth

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Leaders from across the country will gather in Annapolis, Md. today for the Maryland Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Weekend Conference to promote economic development, health, and education. Centered around “building wealth in the African American community,” the event boasts a full schedule for guests with prayer breakfasts, workshops, luncheons, and business seminars.

“I’ve issued a challenge to the philanthropic community to look at creating a pool of resources for people who have that skill set to go into business,” said Sen. Catherine Pugh, who began her two-year term as chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland in April.

According to reports released by the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, businesses owned by African Americans have created over 900,000 jobs nationally while also contributing $136 billion to the American economy. Maryland alone has 110,433 minority businesses that have employed 112,021 people.

“As we give out contracts on the state level for information technology and opportunities in biotechnology and cyber security we are looking to have partners in the African American community,” said Sen. Pugh, citing a lack of inclusion and resources in new and growing fields as a hindrance to minority entrepreneurs.

While focused on creating healthy fiscal management skills, this year’s conference will delve into topics such as reducing the recidivism rate in Maryland and nationwide. As an election season quickly approaches, guests will also attend workshops on the power of the vote in efforts to “combat voter apathy for 2012.”

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Other seminars held for attendees will focus on the current state and future of historically black colleges and universities, and the hepatitis epidemic that is sweeping through minority communities.

Panelists for the three day event include Dr. James H. Johnson, director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center, and Dr. A. Melisa Moye, chief investment officer for the State Retirement and Pension System of Maryland.

Formed in 1970, the LBCM has grown substantially since the first 17 African American Maryland legislators created the organization. Now comprised of 43 members, the Legislative Black Caucus has been highly praised over the years for making legislative strides in the interest of African American citizens.

In the 2010 general session the LBCM saw the passage of six bills that took on issues specific to African American Marylanders, such as minority business opportunities in the building of institutions of higher learning and hospitals.

Introduced by Sen. Pugh in 2008 after a year and a half of close examination, Senate Bill 606 (SB 606) alone took investments in minority owned companies from $300 million in 2008 to over two billion.

Workshops will be held to discuss the passage of SB 606 and continued efforts to expound upon its success.

Noted for being one of the major African American legislative organizations in the country, the LBCM has long been a vital link between African-American constituents and the leaders elected to serve them.

Free transportation to attend Friday’s seminars will be provided, with buses leaving the Target of Mondawmin Mall (401 Liberty Heights Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21215) at 7:45 a.m. and returning at 4 p.m. If interested please call 410-383-1500.

For more information on the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland please visit
www.legislativeblkcaucusmd.org