WNC Black Business Expo Preps - TribPapers

WNC Black Business Expo Preps

Photo by Christina Wocintechchat.

AshevilleThe Western North Carolina Minority Business Association is hosting its annual WNC Black Business Expo at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Asheville. Event organizers expect upwards of a thousand people to attend expo from April 8-10. A star-studded lineup of keynote speakers are slated to attend.

Expo Details

The WNC Black Business Expo is a multifaceted trade show, networking and learning event. It is designed for minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The expo features three days of educational workshops, a kickoff social, professional networking, panel discussions, and food and entertainment. The convention is showcasing several industry leaders.

“Having this event, not only will it give us more, but it will also shine a light on this area,” said Keynon Lake, founder of My Daddy Taught Me That, in a promotional video released by the expo. MDMT is a youth development program that supports young men through advocacy, education and mentoring.

Honored Guests

Keynon Lake and participants in his organization, My Daddy Taught Me That. Photo courtesy of Rika Harrison.

Attendees include Adrian Miller, national food writer and James Beard Award winner; Robyn Hatcher, author and CEO of SpeakEtc. who has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America; Precious L. Williams, a 13-time national elevator pitch champion who has been featured on Shark Tank, CNN, Forbes and Black Enterprise magazines; and Keya Hamilton, actor, writer and director best known for her role in the Hallmark Christmas movie Christmas in Harmony; Mariah Street, a licensed attorney in North Carolina and CEO of Legacy Street Law; and Sandhya Maheshwari, a much-sought-after DreamBuilder life coach with a commerce degree from Bombay University. 

“It’s very important for Black businesses to support Black businesses,” says Stephen Smith, owner of MS Lean Landscaping, in a promotional video released by the expo. 

Saturday features Keynote Speaker Daymond John, one of the Sharks from Shark Tank. John speaks from 2:15 – 3:15 pm, with a meet and greet and photo op. John frequently mentors and invests in entrepreneurs. He is the CEO and founder of Shark Tank Group, a brand management and consulting firm. 

Other featured guests include Jason A Muhammad, founder of JM Leadership Development who works with emerging leaders through workshops and seminars; Alex Cardona, another Asheville resident who owns his own legal service business and hosts a business radio show, the Golden Key on Biz Radio Asheville; Dakota Grady, a financial coach, professional speaker and author who teaches the class, The 6 Steps to Managing Your Money; Jasmine Dixx, owner and founder of Simply J Beauty who stresses the importance of skin care and self-care for business owners and entrepreneurs; Reggie Tidwell, an award-winning designer and photographer, and founding president of AIGA Asheville; and Chi Chi Okezie, owner and producer of SIMPLEnetworking, which teaches college students, companies and organizations how to polish their professional approach.

“We are extremely excited about the group of speakers assembled for this first-ever event,” said Rika Harrison, founder and board member of the Western Business Association with more than 20 years of experience working in the private sector and as an entrepreneur. “The response from sponsors, minority-owned businesses and attendees has been amazing.  I think this Expo is an idea long overdue and much needed for this region of the state.”

Harrison, the founder and executive director of the WNC Black Business Expo, is an advertising representative for the Tribune Papers. The is also an editorial committee member of The Envoy Magazine, a publication that specializes in educating and promoting minority and women entrepreneurs and artists. The event secured 47 sponsors to date, headed by top-tier supporters Western Women’s Center, NC Idea Foundation, Lenoir-Rhyne University and Western Carolina University.

“Yes, this is Black Expo and it’s highlighting Black-owned businesses, but we want the community to come out and support and patronize these Black businesses,” Harrison says in a promotional video. “It’s important because while one member of our community thrives and excels, it benefits all of us. Join us!” 

For more information on the WNC Black Business Expo, go to WNC Black Business Expo (wncblackexpo.com) or email rika@wncblackexpo.com.

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