The Crusader Newspaper Group

Progress at our 24th Annual Conference

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry C. Alford

Our 24th Annual Conference, held in New Orleans, proved to be our best conference yet. We had over 40 speakers and held it at venues: Hilton Riverside Hotel and the Port of New Orleans Administrative Building. We were at the Port because there are more than 2 trillion dollars annually in contracting opportunities at American ports. From now on we will focus on this industry. So this was our “Maiden Voyage.” The Port of New Orleans is the 6th largest port in the nation. It did not disappoint. The featured cruise line for the port is Carnival Cruise Lines. The CEO of Carnival is African American Arnold Donald and he came and spent a half day with us. He is extremely brilliant. In sum, the conference was our best yet and that is quite an accomplishment.

One of our Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) was with the Surety and Fidelity Association. This concerns an 8 week program for construction companies. It is to prepare them so that they become bondable or increase their bonding levels. A bond is a combination of insurance and credit. For example, if a contractor wins a bid for a $200,000 contract he must have a bonding capacity of, at least, $200,000. If not, he cannot proceed. This Construction Development Model Program will begin in Kansas City, Missouri and then spread to St. Louis, Missouri. Our goal is to provide this service to contractors in at least 25 states. We thank our Missouri Black Chamber of Commerce for kick starting this program. Our contractors will increase their bonding capacity by hundreds of millions of dollars.

The next MOU is with the Timeless Herbal Care Limited. This Jamaica based company specializes in the distribution (via dispensaries) of medical marijuana. Right now Black entrepreneurs in the medical marijuana dispensary business do not amount to 1% ownership of the total dispensaries currently in business. The industry is growing exponentially. Right now 25 states and Washington, DC have made medical marijuana legal and the Attorney General is not contesting this. At this rate the vast majority of states will soon be having legal medical marijuana dispensaries in their cities. There is one patent concerning medical marijuana. Patent #6630507 was obtained in 2003 by, guess who? The United States government. President Obama has promised to make medical marijuana a Substance II substance which makes it totally legal. Proven to provide improvement for cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Muscular Sclerosis, Anxiety, HIV, PTSD and other ailments this industry is going to explode and we want Blacks to have their fair share of the marketplace. Please keep in mind that medical marijuana is void of THC, a component that causes the “get high” aspect of the drug.

The Honorable Michael Coteau, Canadian Member of Parliament (Toronto) came and made a persuasive presentation. He is inviting the National Black Chamber of Commerce to establish a viable chapter in the Ontario Province. The purpose is to groom new and thriving entrepreneurs amongst the Black population. They are so frustrated that they formed a set-aside program for Black and Native American contractors. The problem was they didn’t have one contractor who could perform a project of $5 million or more. The NBCC will form a “Contractor College” to be run by two or three of our largest contracting members and our bonding program. This is going to be a dynamic MOU and program. Look out Canada! The NBCC is coming to town.

We have signed three MOU’s concerning the nation of Columbia. Our chapter in this dynamic nation has been extremely busy. One MOU is with the City of Choco. The mayor, who is a leader with the nation’s Black mayors’ association, has given the NBCC full use of more than 4,000 acres of fertile farm land. Thus, we are forming our Agriculture Committee. We see including the National Black Farmers Association and HBCU’s with Agriculture Departments and the US Department of Agriculture. The University of Santiago has also signed an MOU concerning the application of this project and the next one. That MOU is with a coalition of local governments as well as the legislature of Columbia. This concerns the negotiations with the long-term guerilla movement within the nation – FARC. This government and FARC are coming to terms with a peaceful transition into mainstream society. Our mission in this is to help make conflict resolution via small business development among the FARC members. The government will allow them to keep their treasury which is in the billions of dollars USD. The funding of the project will exceed over $400 million. We look forward to our role as a major consultant.

As you can see, our agenda is certainly full. We look forward to our upcoming three annual conferences where we will provide the public with updates on the above MOU’s. Thus, we are accepting proposals for our Annual Conferences in 2017, 2018 and 2019. God is great and the future is bright!

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Website: Email: [email protected]

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