DES MOINES, Iowa — Next week, the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce is holding its first-ever Black and Brown Business Summit, a two-day conference aimed at supporting minority-owned businesses.
West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Terrance Thames, said that the goal of this summit is to create a minority ecosystem in Des Moines, an environment where minority businesses not only exist but thrive.
“Just because we don’t have a large minority population in our state compared to other places, does not mean we don’t have a thriving and growing minority business community,” Thames said. “We are greater when we can network together, and pour into our own minority business community. Corporations are better when they have diverse pipelines, and they can increase their diversity of thought and diversity of solutions.”
This Black and Brown Summit is presented by Principal Financial Group and will take place at Athene on April 22nd and 23rd.
Programming for the summit includes breakout sessions led by top experts, keynote speakers, and networking.
Breakout sessions are divided into two tracks, new entrepreneurs defined as businesses in their first two years of operation and established entrepreneurs that have been business owners in existence for more than two years and are looking to grow in scale.
The conference will also include a pitch competition that results in a cash prize.
Israel Tutson is participating in this competition. Tutson recently started his own business, Vibes, in March. Vibes is a platform representing Black composers in the TV and film industry. This new entrepreneur says he’s excited to meet other local owners.
“It’s lonely, but only because I’m just kind of new to the game. I’m still finding out a lot about where Black business owners are out there and so this competition plus the workshops I think are going to be an excellent opportunity for me and just the networking aspect to meet other people that are out there,” Tutson said.
Thames said this summit isn’t only benefiting local minority-owned businesses but also local corporations who’ve committed to investing in diversity and inclusion efforts.
“There’s an opportunity for corporations and decision-makers to be a part of the conversation, educate themselves as well as to how they can best support minority-owned businesses, they don’t want to overlook that as well,” Thames said.
Tutson said he hopes that this conference shows local corporations that it’s important to support minority owners not only due to hardships they face, but because they run efficient businesses.
“These aren’t handouts that you’re handing to people, but these are qualified Black and brown businesses,” Tutson said. “All you got to do is be cognizant of the fact that they’re out there.”
To learn more about the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce’s Black and Brown Business Summit, visit the organization’s website.