You may have heard: the 2017 Big Bend Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week is around the corner! The planning committee for this year’s event is chaired by the Office of Economic Vitality’s LaTanya Raffington, Senior Coordinator of Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) Programs.
We took a moment to ask LaTanya a few questions about MED Week and to get a preview of what to expect October 3-6, 2017 for the 25th Anniversary of Big Bend MED Week.
OEV: Tell us a little about the history of MED Week – when and why was it first started, and how has it changed over the years?
Raffington: President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the first week of October as Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) in 1983. MED Week gives our community the opportunity to celebrate the contributions of minority business to the American economy and to encourage the development of minority business across the country. Locally, Big Bend MED Week has grown each year in the number of workshops and activities offered, as well as in the number of attendees and participants.
OEV: What are some of the highlights of this year’s lineup?
Raffington: Activities scheduled this year include the Supplier Diversity Exchange, Access to Capital workshop, and the Awards Luncheon, which will honor Congressman Al Lawson as the Reggie Rolle Economic Champion of the year. The Reggie Rolle Economic Champion is annually awarded to an individual or minority business that exemplifies the mission and memory of the event’s first Chairman, Rev. Dr. Reginald L. Rolle through their outstanding economic development achievements. We are honored to have Ms. Marie Johns, former U.S. Small Business Association Administrator, as the keynote speaker at the luncheon.
OEV: Why should someone participate in MED Week?
Raffington: MED Week is a great opportunity to showcase your business, gain knowledge to help you as a business owner by attending the workshops, and network with other business owners.
OEV: You’ve been involved with MED Week since 1996, for 22 of the 25 years it has taken place in Tallahassee-Leon County. What are some of the impacts you’ve seen as a result of the event?
Raffington: The MED Week celebration grows each year with increased participation from business owners. We’ve seen attendance double in recent years, and the number of partners has also multiplied. Those businesses have secured contracts and established long-lasting business relationships as a result of their participation in MED Week activities over the years.
OEV: Looking ahead, what does the future of MED Week look like?
Raffington: We strive each year to provide workshops to businesses that help them to gain access to capital, learn cutting edge techniques, and learn how to market their business just to name a few. New businesses are forming daily and existing businesses are continually striving to stay abreast of best practices. MED Week will continue to be relevant as it provides benefits to minority businesses.
OEV: Anything else you’d like to share?
Raffington: MED Week takes pride in its longevity and presence in this community for the past 25 years, and the contributions this event has made over time to the growth and success of minority businesses in the Big Bend.
Thanks to LaTanya Raffington and the entire MED Week Committee for their exceptional dedication to what promises to be an excellent week of activities that will commemorate, inspire, and educate our community on the contributions and development of minority businesses in Tallahassee-Leon County!