Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr. To Headline Diversify 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr. will deliver the keynote address at Diversify 2013, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural event showcasing business opportunities for minorities, women and other disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

This one-day summit will feature seminars, a luncheon, a Business Diversity Expo and meetings with purchasing officials from major firms. Throughout the event, top business leaders with expertise in diversity and inclusion will share their insights from the field and strategies for growing diverse enterprises.

Diversify 2013 will take place Oct. 2, from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center. All activities, except the luncheon, are free and open to the public. Advance registration for the luncheon is required by Sept. 25. Click here to reserve a spot.

“When it comes to doing business in Hamilton County, we are more than the sum of our parts,” said Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber. “Coming together as businesspeople enhances the greater economic picture of our region. Diversify 2013 is a celebration of the business potential we share and must work together to achieve.”

The keynote address from Mayor Wharton will bring important perspective to those possibilities, said Mr. Harr.

“Mayor Wharton’s reputation for tackling tough challenges to create economic opportunity in Memphis is renowned throughout the state,” said Mr. Harr. “We’re delighted to offer Chattanooga business leaders the opportunity to learn from his successes and hear his insights into our own potential as a business community.”

Diversify 2013 is the culmination of the Chattanooga Chamber’s one-year effort to increase business connections, contracting opportunities and entrepreneurial support for diverse companies through its African American Business Development Program. Directed by Maria Noel, the program partners with other business organizations, major firms, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations to advance its goals.

“This inaugural summit is an opportunity to support job creation, initiate peer-to-peer networking and foster mentoring support for business owners who are minorities, women and service-disabled veterans, among other disadvantaged entrepreneurs,” said Ms. Noel. “We hope Diversify 2013 inspires new business connections and sustainable partnerships that open doors for diverse local companies and promote economic growth for our community.”

The Business Diversity Expo will be open to visitors continuously throughout the event. Local minority-owned businesses will showcase their products, services and items for sale at the expo. Other participants will include local purchasing officials and human resource contacts, as well as Chattanooga Chamber businesses that support diversity and minority-owned firms. Those interested in participating can still purchase an expo display table or booth. 

The free seminars will include: 

Securing the Contract – Panel Discussion // 9:10 – 10:10 a.m.

Purchasing officials weigh in on competing for corporate and governmental contracts. Panelists will include James McKissic, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the City of Chattanooga, Michael Jones, manager of the Minority & Women-Owned Business Department for EPB, and Ella L. Clark, manager of Supplier & Partner Initiatives for TVA. Ron Harris, director of diversity for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, will facilitate the discussion.

Executive Perspective from Andre Gist // 10:15 – 10:50 a.m.

Hear from the 12th largest business owner on the Black Enterprise BE100 list.

Open for Business // 10:55 – 11:25 a.m.

SBA’s top lender discusses how to pursue the dream of starting or expanding a business. 

Solving the Profit Puzzle // 1:20 – 1:50 p.m.

Diverse businesses learn how to crack the code on corporate contracts.

“Coopetition” // 1:55 – 2:25 p.m.

Coopetition: It’s the next level of teaming, joint ventures and partnering for growth.

Amplify Your Professional Development // 2:30 – 3 p.m.

Amplify Your Professional Development with these public speaking and networking tips.

For more information about Diversify 2013, email or call 423 763-4366. To learn more about the Chattanooga Chamber’s African American Business Development Program, contact Maria Noel at or 423 763-4338.

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