Bryant to Speak at White House Urban Entrepreneurship Forum, Atlanta, Georgia

July, 2011


 Tyler Perry and Ofelia de La Valette to serve as keynote speakers;

All-day forum scheduled for Friday, July 29 at the Woodruff Arts Center to focus

on job creation and access to capital for local entrepreneurs


ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed, The White Office Business Council and The White House Office of Public Engagement on Wednesday announced the keynote speakers and full program details for the Atlanta Urban Entrepreneurship Forum scheduled for Friday, July 29, 2011 at the Woodruff Arts Center. 


Tyler Perry, founder of Tyler Perry Studios, and Ofelia de la Valette, founder and owner of Dance 101, will serve as the keynote speakers during the all-day event. The purpose of the forum is to support job growth and foster economic success for local entrepreneurs. The event will include a live pitch competition hosted by 100 Urban Entrepreneurs in which the winner will receive $10,000 in startup financing and eight weeks of business mentoring.


“Atlanta has a rich legacy and tradition of supporting urban entrepreneurs, especially small, minority and women-owned businesses,” said Mayor Reed. “In collaboration with President Barack Obama’s goals to grow the economy and put people back to work, today’s forum offers a unique opportunity to initiate a dialogue on the future of innovation in the urban community.  When entrepreneurs are allowed to capitalize on opportunities and are appropriately assisted by the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, they are able to create jobs and reinvigorate our local economy.”

In addition to the keynote speeches, the forum includes two panels and five roundtable sessions on topics such as Better Together: Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit Partnerships for Entrepreneurs and Startups;  Access To Capital: Investing in Urban Entrepreneurs; Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Women Entrepreneurs; and Entrepreneurs in Entertainment.

“President Obama’s top priorities are creating jobs and providing economic opportunities for all Americans to ensure that we win the future,” said Michael Blake, Deputy Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. “One critical way to achieve that goal is by partnering with visionary leaders such as Mayor Reed to provide local business leaders, especially urban entrepreneurs, with the tools they need for economic success and job growth.” 

Blake added: “From increasing awareness of the local resources available to help urban entrepreneurs grow and expand to connecting them with business trailblazers who can provide mentorship, the Atlanta Urban Entrepreneurship Forum is a community-based, solutions-oriented approach to creating economic opportunities. It will help ensure that more entrepreneurs gain access to capital to realize their dreams as we out-build, out-educate and out-innovate the rest of the world.” 

During the forum, 10 Atlanta-based entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to participate in a 60-Second Business Pitch hosted by 100 Urban Entrepreneurs (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing entrepreneurial assistance to those from economically distressed and/or disadvantaged groups. 

The organization also finances, teaches and mentors minority entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have access to startup capital, first-class knowledge or a professional network.  100 UE is looking for Atlanta-area urban entrepreneurs to submit their business ideas and apply to participate in the pitch event in front of a live audience. The winner will receive $10,000 in startup financing and eight-weeks of business mentoring.

John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation Hope (, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to financial literacy and economic empowerment, said the Atlanta Urban Entrepreneurship Forum is about, “converting, magnifying and monetizing the untapped entrepreneurial energy already present in under-served communities and helping to translate that into jobs.”

“Converting small business dreamers into small business owners is the ultimate goal line,” Bryant said. “This is an opportunity for community, private enterprise, and public leaders, led by President Obama and Mayor Reed, to all work together to make this dream tangible and real."

Mayor Reed has made supporting local entrepreneurs a vital part of his economic development initiatives. In May, he partnered with Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration, to host a roundtable discussion which focused on a variety of issues that impact Atlanta’s female small business owners.  A cross-section of women business owners from a variety of sectors including banking, broadcasting and public affairs joined Mayor Reed and Deputy Administrator Johns to discuss the importance of small businesses to the economy and both federal and local initiatives to help women who are committed to business enterprise.

President Obama has laid out a vision to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world – a plan critical for America’s cities. Earlier this year, President Obama formed the White House Business Council, which strives to execute his plan to promote growth through investments in American business to equip workers with the skills they need to succeed, encourage the private sector to hire and invest in American competitiveness, and attract top jobs and businesses in the United States.


Because entrepreneurship plays a central role in creating jobs and economic opportunity, the administration is committed to creating public-private and nonprofit partnerships to support current entrepreneurs and spark a new generation of urban business owners. At the local level, the City of Atlanta, via its agent the Atlanta Development Authority, offers several programs designed to boost economic empowerment among urban entrepreneurs, including Opportunity Zones, small business loans and access to federal New Markets Tax Credits.  In addition, the City of Atlanta’s research colleges, universities and business incubators provide start-ups with access to affordable space and resources that enable them to accelerate technologies and bring them to market faster.

To focus on these types of initiatives to boost job growth in cities such as Atlanta, the White House Business Council and the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Domestic Policy Council are partnering with mayors to strengthen urban entrepreneurship. The first Urban Entrepreneurship Forum was held at Rutgers Business School in Newark on June 4, 2011 with Mayor Cory Booker as the host. The second forum was hosted by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans on July 20, 2011.  The Atlanta event marks the third Urban Entrepreneurship Forum hosted by the White House and local leaders. Additional forums are planned for New York City (Aug. 1); Orlando (Aug. 3); Philadelphia (Aug. 8); and Oakland (Aug. 11).


The Atlanta Urban Entrepreneurship Forum agenda includes:


9:00AM to 9:10AM


9:10AM to 9:20AM


9:20AM to 9:25 AM


Welcome from The White House


Greetings from Mayor Kasim Reed


Introduction of Tyler Perry by Mayor Reed


9:25AM to 9:45AM           


9:45AM to 10:00AM


10:00AM to 10:15 AM

Morning Keynote: Tyler Perry


Audience Q & A with Tyler Perry


Networking Session #1/Media Availability


10:15AM to 11:15AM


Panel #1 ­ Better Together: Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit Partnerships for Entrepreneurs and Startups (with a focus on getting more entrepreneurs into high growth industries)
Moderator: Ari Matusiak, Executive Director, White House Business Council

Panelists: John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE; Tony Miller, Deputy Secretary of Department of Education; Carlton Brown, President, Clark Atlanta University; Daniel Homrich, Founder, HUB Atlanta; Donna Ennis, Project Director of the Minority Business Development Agency at Georgia Tech



11:15AM to 12:05PM



100 Urban Entrepreneurs Live Pitch Event


12:05PM to 12:15PM


News and Announcements  



12:15PM to 1:00PM


1:00PM TO 2:00PM












2:05PM TO 2:10PM




Panel #2 - Access To Capital: Investing in Urban Entrepreneurs

Moderator: Don Graves, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury

Panelists: Tricia Kerney-Willis, Manager of Outreach for Community Development Financial Institution Fund, Department of Treasury; Cassius Butts, Deputy Regional Administrator, SBA;  Tino Mantella, Technology Association of Georgia; Tim Reese, Minority Angel Investor Network; Earl Robinson, Principal, Column Point Capital



Introduction of Afternoon Keynote Speaker by Stacii Jae Johnson, Director, Mayor’s Office of Special Events



2:10PM to 2:30PM


2:30PM to 2:45PM


2:45PM to 3:00 PM


3:00PM to 4:00PM


Afternoon Keynote: Ofelia de la Valette 


Audience Q&A with Ofelia de la Valette


Networking Session #2/Media Availability


Concurrent Breakout Roundtable Sessions


Concurrent Breakout Roundtable Sessions

Roundtable #1 Cracking the Ceiling: Women Entrepreneurs
Moderator: Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing & Services., Dept of Commerce
Panelists: Patricia Harris, Co-Founder. & Chief Executive Officer of The Edge Connection Panelist; Ana Harvey,  Associate Administrator, Women's Bureau of the U.S. Small Business Administration; Juanita Baranco, VP and COO Baranco,  Automotive Group; Stacey Key, President and CEO of Georgia Minority Supplier Development  Council


Roundtable #2 Entrepreneurship in the Entertainment Industry
Moderator:  Nina Brown, On-Air Talent for WXIA-11
Panelists: Jerry Clark, Jerry Clark Foundation; Sandra Brown, Esq., Law Offices of Sandra Brown;  Bu Thiam, VP of A&R Def Jam; CEO Konvict Muzic; Nicci Gilbert, No Ego Entertainment, President and CEO; MusiqSoulchild, Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Arranger and Video Director

Roundtable #3 - Creating a Winning Mindset for Young Entrepreneurs (w/ a focus on education)

Moderator: William Jawando, Deputy Director of Strategic Partnerships, U.S. Department of Education

Panelists: Kimberly Corbin, President and CEO National Black MBA Association, Inc.; JaKathryn Ross, Executive Director, Youth Entrepreneurs Atlanta; Isom Lowman, President and CEO, Lowman Group; Mychael Knight, President and CEO of Mychael Knight Inc.;  Joy Wilkins, Senior Fellow, The Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia


Roundtable #4 Rethinking Business and Staying Competitive: Challenges and Opportunities for Experienced Mid-Career Entrepreneurs (with a focus on technology)
Moderator: Phil Paradice, Economic Development Administration
Panelists:  Joann Hill, Minority Business Development Agency; Egbert Perry, Founder and CEO, The Integral Group; Michael Russell, CEO, HJ Russell and Company; Michael Hill, President/CEO, Atlanta Metro Black Chamber of Commerce


Roundtable #5: Start-Up Strategies: Shifting Gears and Leveraging Your Dollars

Moderator: Shyam Reddy, Regional Administrator, GSA
Panelists: Bernard Bronner, President & CEO, Bronner Brothers Incorporated; Melissa Dawn Johnson, President, Velvet Suite Marketing Group Inc.;  Brian McGowan, President of the Atlanta Development Authority; Ellen Kim, Small Business Administration; Willard “Chuck” Lewis, Founder and Chairman, WM Lewis Group 





4:00PM to 4:10PM



4:10PM to 4:15PM


4:15PM – 4:30PM

CareerOneStop. Org Presentation with the Atl
anta Workforce Development Authority, Deborah Lum


Special Presentation


Armchair conversation with Mayor Kasim Reed & Michael Blake, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement




General registration for the Atlanta Urban Entrepreneurship Forum is closed due to space limitations. The forum is open to pre-credentialed media. Journalists interested in covering the forum should email

 # # #

For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit or watch City Channel 26.


John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama.


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