The African-American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware raised $100,000, the most ever at any annual meeting and awards gala in its 24-year history, officials said this week.
The chamber celebrated the moment Wednesday evening with hundreds of business leaders and city officials while recognizing small Black businesses.
“I am excited,” said Chamber Chairman Steven Scott Bradley, stating that he credited the milestone to “new leadership, a strong board, good programs” and that the “Kenney administration has been very supportive.”
Bradley said the funds will be used for chamber “programming and board development.”
He added that he is also looking forward to the growth of the chamber under the recently appointed President Michael Banks, citing Banks’ work on Wall Street and ability to touch the community as key traits.
“Mike has a lot of energy,” Bradley said. “He can get in corporate rooms and he wants to make a difference.”
Banks and Bradley agreed that one of the best ways to support the chamber is to become a member.
“Get engaged, help build the chamber,” Banks said. Bradley added that whenever he is connecting with city officials or financial institutions, they always ask, “what’s your membership?’ The more membership, the stronger the chamber, the stronger the community and we can get money,” he said.
The keynote speaker was Ulice Payne, Jr., the first African American to work as CEO of a Major League Baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Payne, who also holds a law degree and heads the consulting firm Addison-Clifton, LLC, shared some business and life advice.
“Listen to the market,” he said. “Don’t be discouraged when you get turned down or when your product list doesn’t sell. Listen to the market and then adapt to the market.”
Payne then encouraged the business leaders to “give,” according to whatever they can at the moment.”
“The more I give, the more I get to give,” he said. “Whatever spectrum you are on, there’s a talent, time or treasure opportunity.”
The chamber also gave out several awards to local businesses — large and small — during the gala.
Syncrani, a visual artists management firm, was recognized as Start Up of the Year.
“They support and advocate for small African-American businesses,” said Ernestine Johnson, of Syncrani, who credited the chamber as an important part of her success. “[And] they are so connected to the political arena always making us aware of what we should concern ourselves with.”
The Tactile Group, a web development company, was recognized as Small Business of the Year.
“I’m extremely honored. We use the Chamber a lot for access to decision makers in the community and networking,” said Marc Coleman, the company president. “It’s been an important part of our growth.”
Comcast NBC Universal was awarded Corporate Advocate of the Year. David L. Cohen, Comcast senior executive vice president, accepted the award. The Philadelphia Visitors and Conventions Bureau was named Nonprofit of the Year. The award was accepted by president and CEO Julie Coker Graham. Parx Casino was awarded the 2016 Vanguard Award, accepted by Ron Davis.