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Nevada Black Chamber of Commerce seeks synergy

Pat Patera

Yet another area Chamber of Commerce has chartered in the Reno area, to fill a need that the founders felt was being neglected.

The Nevada Black Chamber of Commerce means to build and serve a diverse ethnic business community. Its tools will include leadership, business, technology, networking, and mentoring, says member Keith Buggs.

But the Black Chamber of Commerce doesn’t plan to go it alone.

It’s already working to unite and tie into what Buggs calls the Quad Chambers: Reno, Sparks, Hispanic, and Black.

And that’s where the technology component first comes in to support a diverse business committee. As a Microsoft employee, Buggs knows computer technology and picked out GMO software to let Group Members Only form online communities.

And the push for synergy doesn’t stop there.

Creating partnerships with companies and educational institutions is the first order of business.

“We can’t do this alone,” says Buggs. By year-end, he hopes the chamber will have over 500 members and partners people who believe in the vision.

That vision is laser focused on fostering entrepreneurship and mentoring young people who need direction.

To accomplish that, the chamber plans seminars to train upstarts. Topics could be: How to do a business plan. Again, says Buggs, the chamber doesn’t plan to go it alone; instead, it might partner with New Horizons or Truckee Meadows Community College.

Black Chamber materials state that minority business owners lack relationships with the banking establishment. The solution is to use the chamber website to acquaint minorities with special funding programs.

Another challenge for minority success is a general timidity toward high tech activities. The proposed solution is tech training.

Recruiting membership for the black chamber is underway. The group held its first business mixer last month.

Recruitment also meant reaching out to the Black Student Union, the NAACP and the African Union of Northern Nevada. Of course, people of all ethnicities are welcome to join.

But Buggs doesn’t expect it to be easy. To make the Black Chamber of Commerce a success, he says, key people must step forward and not sit back and wait for others. That means business owners and the education community.

“In five years,” says Buggs, “the goal is to have key functions going full steam ahead.” That includes the mentoring and training programs, partnering with successful companies, and funding of scholarships for high achievers.

But the vision is broader still. “We hope that when people see that a black Chamber of Commerce exists in Reno, it will attract diversity to the community,” says Buggs.

Membership rates start at $75 for an individual, and up, depending on the number of employees at a company.

For information, call 825-3490. Chamber officers are Martin Ezemma, executive vice president and Vita Ozoude, treasurer.