Business Reader Contributed

West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Launching ‘Colorful Conversations’

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The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce is launching a new forum to address issues and concerns of minority-owned and represented businesses.

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The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, through its Minority Business Network, will hold the first in their “Colorful Conversations” series on Thursday, Jan. 7, from noon-1:30 p.m. via Zoom and Facebook Live.

This inaugural event will be a forum with West Hartford’s state delegation. State Sen. Derek Slap and state Reps. Tammy Exum, Jillian Gilchrest, and newly-elected Kate Farrar will serve as panelists. The Q&A-based forum will center around issues and concerns related to minority businesses in the post-election environment. Minority Business Network Chairman Christopher Clarke of Merrill Bank of America will serve as moderator for the hour-and-a-half event.

“The Minority Business Network strives to provide resources and a voice for professionals of color,” said Clarke. “It is with that goal in mind that we pulled together our Colorful Conversation series. I am both honored and excited to serve as the moderator for the upcoming panel.”

The Minority Business Network is a committee of the Chamber. It was founded in early 2020 as a means of providing visibility, networking opportunities, and resources to Chamber members who are also members of underrepresented racial, ethnic, and religious populations. Their mission is to “Increase visibility of minority-owned businesses, provide a discussion forum for the unique challenges faced by minority professionals, and increase diversity of Chamber membership.”

“With small businesses closing in the hundreds everyday across our country, I’m curious to hear, during the Colorful Conversations meeting, from our locally-elected officials on what resources will be (re)-allocated to help keep our small businesses afloat during this continuing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stephen King Jr., account representative with OtherDesigns, a locally-owned printing and marketing company. He is also a founding member of the Minority Business Network.

This will be the first in a quarterly series of discussions centering around the challenges and concerns of minority businesses. The committee will host additional programming through the year and provide networking opportunities and resources specifically designed for minority-owned and represented businesses.

“I am looking forward to getting the community together with local electives to build collaborative relationships,” said Javil Johns of Relax the Back, another founding member of the Minority Business Network. “Synergy is something that I hope to accomplish during and after this conversation so small businesses don’t just survive – they thrive – through 2021 with the help, assistance, and collaborations of local electives.”

Colorful Conversations is the continuation of a series of roundtable forums the committee co-facilitated in late 2020 with Charter Oak State College Foundation. The three-part Shea Lecture series focused on disparities and inequities regarding access to capital, education, food, and healthcare in minority communities.

“I am hoping to build relationships as well as bridge understanding through these conversations,” said Travis Bish, another founding member of the Minority Business Network and owner of The North Star Realtors. “Especially with the first conversation, I am hoping we can also hold the elected officials accountable so that we can be – as a group – their biggest fans and supporters in building a better future together. It is a great first step!”

Liberty Bank and The North Star Realtors are Gold Sponsors and Westfield Bank is Technology Sponsor for the event.  To register for the Zoom visit: https://www.whchamber.com/events/details/discussion-on-the-election-and-what-does-it-mean-to-communities-of-color-colorful-conversations-series-presented-by-the-whcc-minority-business-network-4960.

For more information on the West Hartford Chamber’s Minority Business Network, visit: https://www.whchamber.com/minority-business-network.

For more information on the event or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Kate Kobs, outreach & development coordinator at [email protected].

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