January 31, 2007

Cincinnati [sigh]

How does the saying go ... anything that isn't bad news is good news. Actually, I don't know if that is the saying or not. However, I do know that it has been a long time since those glory days in the mid-1990s when Cincinnati was being touted as the 'best place to live' in national magazines. I run a small business incubator. Our main purpose for existing is to help emerging businesses create jobs and encourage economic development in the urban core of our town. So, it was tough to see the news that Forbes Magazine's "Best Cities for Jobs" listing ranked the Cincinnati area at 56 (our of the top 100), using five criteria: unemployment rate, job growth, income growth, median household income and cost of living.

The good news is that our town's 2007 ranking (#56) is up one place from the 2006 ranking ... and we are ahead of most other cities in our Tri-State (Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio) ahead of most cities in the region. The Tri-State did best in the cost-of-living area, where it ranked 15th, and worst for income growth, at 84th.

Among regional cities, only the Indianapolis area did better, at 41, although that was a drop from its 18th-place ranking last year. Akron moved up to 61 from 74 in 2006; Columbus dropped to 65 from 54; Louisville fell to 79 from 76; the Cleveland area moved up to 92 from 94; Dayton dropped to 95 from 88; and Toledo inched up to 96 from 97.

Folks in my family are employed, however, if they were to seek jobs they would be interested to know that Atlanta (#22), Los Angeles (#88), San Diego (#31) and Washington DC (#5) were also on the list.

I guess if you are looking for employment ... it would be good to move to Raleigh-Cary, NC. That is the #1 city for jobs according to Forbes. Detroit area ranked at the bottom of the list. I guess if you're from Motown the good news is that there has to be a 101st city someplace in the country !

Click here to see a slideshow of the top 25 cities. Did your city make the list?

January 29, 2007

Who Sez I Ain't Got No Class

Today was interesting at the Cincinnati Business Incubator (CBI). One of our clients who brought in $1.5 million in business last year decided that he would be shutting down his LLC in order to focus on some excellent career opportunities with his employer of the past 17 years. He had been working 48 hours per week on his job ... and another 30 hours per week on his business. He worked through various alternatives and determined that he wanted to focus on career advancement with his employer. I met with this entrepreneur early in the morning. His last day at our incubator will be March 31st.

Later in the morning I met with a branch manager from Huntington Bank. She is currently working on a potential loan package for another of my CBI clients. My client is looking for a $50k line of credit. My meeting with the branch manager focused on the idea of Huntington Bank becoming a corporate sponsor of our non-profit incubator. I think that that meeting went well. Time will tell.

I had a lunch-time meeting as a guest for the community advisory committee of our Cincinnati-based Public Broadcast Service (PBS) --> WCET. One of the delightful aspects of the meeting was a live webcast of their 1-year old project known as CET-Connect. The amount of content available on this portal was amazing to me. I am hopeful that CBI will become the 31st "partner" for CET-Connect. We may be able to have one or more of our lunch'n'learn seminars webcast on this portal. We would do other cross-promotion. I would love to see interviews and discussions on topics of interest to small business owners in this portal. The most amusing part of the meeting came at the end when the hostess asked if I would be interested in becoming a member of their community advisory committee.

However, the coup-de-grace for the day occurred just a few moments ago when I was informed that the "Cincinnati Opera could use your assistance". It turns out that the Cincinnati Opera is planning a remarkable project for delivery in October 2007. They plan to stage a newly commissioned opera inspired by the life of Underground Railroad conductor John P. Parker. Cincinnati Opera has engaged distinguished composer Adolphus Hailstork to create a new work, aimed at informing young people and families about this admirable man. Parker moved to Ripley OH, after purchasing his own freedom. He launched a successful business as an iron maker and inventor, but he also helped people fleeing from slavery -- often imperiling his own life in the process.

This October project will be known as RISE FOR FREEDOM ... and it will be about 60 minutes in length, and presented at the Aronoff Center in downtown Cincinnati. Anyhow, I've been asked to serve on the advisory committee for this event. I replied that I would be honored to do so ... as long as I wouldn't be disqualified for only attending one opera in my life. I attended San Francisco Opera (by accident!) in the early 1980s. Our group thought we had bought tickets to a Whoopi Goldberg concert ... an example of why you shouldn't drink too much at happy hours .

Anyhow, today was a good day at the incubator. Public television ... the opera ... who sez that I ain't got no class!

January 28, 2007


Cincinnati Business Incubator (CBI) is a non-profit incubator designed to support growth of emerging businesses. Most of the clients that we work with start off as microenterprises (less than 5 employees). As such, I am always trying to learn more about ways to support these businesses in their efforts to create jobs and grow profits. I was pleased to recently learn of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) and the microenterprise.org website that they host. Several microenterprise fact sheets developed by AEO and its partners are currently online. These fact sheets were designed to promote microenterprise to key populations, supporters, and partners. I encourage anyone interested in the idea of entrepreneurism and microenterprises to take a look at the fact sheets.

January 27, 2007

Black History Quiz

We all know Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court justice and Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color line. But there's obviously more to Black history than these high-profile milestones. Click here to see how much you know about important African-American contributions to our nation's commerce, politics, education, science and culture.

January 26, 2007

Golden Anniversary

My father (son of Izona Broyles, aka 'Big Mama' and Walter Hicks) and my mother (daughter of George W. Crockett Jr and Ethelene Jones) celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow (1/27). Each of us realizes the challenges of maintaining a marriage in today's world. It is a mystery for those of us in them ... and it is impossible to understand for those on the outside.

My mom and dad put four children through college. They have lived in the same home for the last 40+ years of their marriage ... with a brief time outside of the house while it was rebuilt from a fire. They have six grandchildren. They are both now retired. My dad retired from a long career as an aeronautical engineer ... and my mom retired from an equally long and distinguished career as an educator.

Anyhow, their children and grandchildren are spread all across the nation ... and in heaven. However, we can all gather here in cyberspace to send them some love. If you have a moment today ... please reach out by phone or email to wish a Golden Wedding Anniversary to Wayne & Liz Hicks.

January 25, 2007

Serena Williams

It was great to see Serena Williams win the Australian Open yesterday. She put an ol' fashioned butt-whippin' on her opponent. Serena only played four matches in 2006 because of injuries. She dropped to #81 ranking in the world. She lost a match earlier in the month to the #56 ranked player. None of that mattered as she marched through her opponents in this grand slam event. I am not a big tennis fan ... but I enjoy it when either of the Williams' sisters does well. I hope that 2007 is a big year for Serena.

Are any of you tennis fans? What do you think about Serena or her sister?

January 24, 2007

BDPA IT Institute

There is still time to sign-up for the BDPA IT Institute certification programs beginning this February. The IT Institute allows you to obtain leadership and management certification, as well as C.E.U.'s through Auburn University's distance learning programs. Certification courses currently being offered include:

IT Associate: This survey course provides exposure to technology management practices, leadership, and system management topics. The objective of the 14-week course is to prepare individual contributors for entry leadership and senior technologists positions as project leaders and systems experts

IT Master: This survey course provides exposure to technology executive practices, technology leadership and governance, and technology innovation theory. The objective of the course is to prepare Information Technology Professionals and mid-level experts for executive leadership positions.

For more information regarding the Institute or hardship scholarships, please e-mail: Institute@bdpa.org.

January 23, 2007

BDPA Richmond

There are over 50 chapters in BDPA nationwide. One of the most progressive chapters is in Richmond VA. The motto of this chapter is 'Educate to Elevate'. A couple of years ago I was invited to serve as keynote speaker for the annual membership drive held by the chapter. I had a great time. My remarks focused on the 'strategies for success'. One of the best aspects of that particular chapter visit was an opportunity to have lunch with 5-6 BDPA members who owned their own businesses. There is an untapped opportunity for BDPA IT entrepreneurs to figure out how better to work together to gain more contracts and such. This will be a topic of discussion in the Village later.

Anyhow, I learned that Justine Turner, the chapter president who extended the invitation for me to visit, stepped down this week. Justine Turner is a native of Hopewell, Virginia. She holds a Certification in Computer Technology from Kee Business College of Richmond, Virginia. Justine is employed at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Information Technology Division / Enterprise Technology Monitoring department. She has worked in the area of Information Technology for more than 23 years. She began her BDPA career in 1992 as a member of the Richmond Chapter. She has served on the Education committee and as BDPA Richmond’s caterer for several Membership drives. She brought over 10 years of organization leadership skills holding various leadership roles within Anthem and other volunteer organizations to her tenure as chapter president. She also serves as Deacon and Youth Leader of New Life Worship. Justine notes that “the youth are her heart”. Justine was on the National BDPA Board of Directors during the time that I was national president. She will be missed.

BDPA Richmond chapter is fortunate. They have a deep bench of talent. Jackie Pryor is able to step up immediately from her President-Elect position to serve out the remainder of Justine's term as chapter president. Jackie Pryor is a native Richmonder. She has been a member of BDPA since 2001 and has served as co-chairperson of the Program and Fund Raising Committees and she volunteers for BDPA whenever and wherever she is needed. She has a Bachelors Degree in Information Systems (specializing in programming) from Strayer University and has worked in the area of Information Technology for 7 years. She is currently employed with First Health Services as a Sr. Business Analyst on the EDI Implementation Team, where she specializes in Project Management. She also has a background in mainframe programming. Jackie serves on the Security Ministry and is the Co-Team Leader of the Welcome Center at St. Paul’s Baptist Church. She is also the proud mother of Miss Asia Rather. I look forward to watching Jackie and her leadership team take BDPA Richmond chapter to the 'next level'.

Share some 'BDPA love' with both Justine and Jackie if you have time/inclination! Heck, if enough of you leave 'comments' on this post ... the two of them may come visit our Electronic Village!

January 22, 2007

Call for Presenters * Ohio Minority Health Institute

The Ohio Minority Health Institute (OMHI) is seeking proposals for presenters at their "Spring Institute," scheduled for March 22-23, 2007. The institute will be held at the Louis Stokes Center on Aging on the campus of Central State University in Wilberforce, OH.

OMHI primarily focuses on training minority community-based organizations across the state on strengthening organizational capacity. The 2-day training and assistance program represents a structure that seeks to help administrators, managers, and health professionals in these organizations become organizationally and financially sound as self-sustaining business and health care providers.

Fresh and innovative proposals on effective capacity building strategies will receive special attention.

To allow presenters time to lecture, have open discussion, engage in "hands-on" training, and engage in topical conversation to a reasonable depth, scheduled presentations will be approximately three hours in length, with additional time for questions, interaction and breaks. Your presentation should be practical, rather than philosophical, and teach skills that the audience can apply immediately in their work.

Your proposal should include:

  • Your speaking qualifications, experience, and three references
  • A one-page abstract of your presentation
  • An outline of your presentation showing the amount of time you would
    devote to each topic
  • A copy of handouts and audience participation tools
  • Your complete contact information (address, phone, fax, email)
Proposals are due by February 2, 2007 to:
Ty Stone, Project Director
Ohio Minority Health
Central State University
College of Business
P.O. Box 1400
Wilberforce, OH 45384
Speakers whose proposals are accepted will be notified by February 16. Potential topics include:
  • Applying for 501 (c) (3) status
  • Locating and applying for grants
  • Business plan development
  • Building an effective board of directors
  • Fundraising
  • Building internal capacity
  • Financial record-keeping
  • Marketing strategy & planning
OMHI is sponsored by the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and Central State University

January 21, 2007

Blacks in Technology

Live long enough and you get your name in the paper! I was contacted recently by Pia Sarkar. She is a staff writer for San Francisco Chronicle. She was doing an article on a powerful brother who runs a technology company in the Bay Area ... Michael Fields. She contacted the BDPA Education & Technology Foundation to get some perspective on how African Americans are doing in the IT industry. Anyhow, I invite you to learn about Mr. Fields and to check out some facts and figures on African Americans in the technology industry.

It just comes naturally
Software executive helps open up the technology field for minorities
- Pia Sarkar, Chronicle Staff Writer

Michael Fields is not one to preach about giving back to the community, even though he's done more than his share. As an African American who has held several high-level positions in the technology industry, he has helped recruit women and minorities into the field, provided office space for companies that are just starting out and worked aggressively to create technology jobs in the Virgin Islands, where his wife grew up.

For Fields, giving back to the community is something that comes naturally.

"I have the capability to do it," he said. "I certainly have the desire."

African Americans have long held only a small percentage of jobs in the technology industry, and an even smaller percentage of the executive positions like the one Fields now occupies. At 61, he is the chief executive officer of Kana, a software company in Menlo Park. He previously worked as president of Oracle's domestic operations and started his own software company, OpenVision.

Wayne Hicks, past president of Black Data Processing Associates, an organization focused on attracting more African Americans to technology, said that a low high school graduation rate coupled with a lack of exposure to technology jobs makes it difficult to increase those percentages. There is also a very small network for African Americans to tap.

"We don't have someone in those executive suites looking out for us," he said.

Click here to read the remainder of the article.

January 20, 2007

Student Summer Camp

Mentoring & Enrichment Seminar in Engineering Training (MESET) - Please pass this message on to any 11th grade African American student interested in engineering. This is an opportunity for 11th grade students to attend a FREE engineering camp at the University of Houston from June 3 - 15, 2007. African-American student participation is very much needed. Please have your student fill out the application and mail it to the address listed on the brochure. If you need further information please contact John Matthews, 713-743-4226.

Students that participate in this camp have been known to gain summer jobs. This camp helps students to develop good study habits and learn about engineering careers. Currently MESET need at least 15 more students to apply. The deadline is April 15, 2007.

Students are encouraged to apply from anywhere in the United States. Transportation is not provided. However, the camp is free. As a courtesy, staff members will pick up and return out of town students to the bus station, train station or airport for free.

January 19, 2007

CIO/CTO Market Report

Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) positions are at the top of the food chain within corporate America. As such it is interesting to keep in tune with the CIO/CTO market for new hires, promotions, board appointments or retirements. Kudos to Heidrick & Struggles for publishing this quarterly report.

January 18, 2007

National College

It appears that I will need to polish up on my speaking skills. I accepted another invitation to stand in front of a room of people. This time I will be talking to a classroom of students at National College on January 24. The class is Introduction to Business. The instructor is Thomas Jefferson. Professor Jefferson asked that I speak to the class on my steps to career success. He also wants me to share a little about how technology is impacting business in today's domestic and global markets. Anyhow, wish me luck on this presentation. Share your 'comment' or thoughts on how you feel that technology is impacting business in today's domestic and global markets.

Coretta Scott King Award

I learned today ... MLK Day ... that there is an award named after his wife. The Coretta Scott King Book Award. It is presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Committee of the American Library Association's (ALA) Ethnic Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT).The award recipients are announced each January during the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

The award is given to an African American author for an outstandingly inspirational and educational contribution. The books promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream. The Award is further designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

January 17, 2007

BDPA Chicago

I am honored that the BDPA Chicago chapter asked me to serve as the master of ceremonies for their 2007 Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, January 20, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago located at 151 East Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. The Banquet will be preceded by a Career Fair at the Hyatt Regency C from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. on the same day. I appreciate the chapter officers (Yvette Graham and Pam Sexton) for reaching out to me for this assignment.

One of the highlights of the banquet will be the keynote speech from Cortez Trotter, Chief Emergency Officer, City of Chicago. In our highly volatile world, it is unique and uplifting to see a person of African-descent in such a critical position with one of the largest cities in the world. I encourage any Villager that lives near Chicago to make an effort to attend this event on 1/20/07. Click here to Purchase tickets for the Banquet or secure a booth for the fair.


It is likely that only my family will see this blog in the first few weeks. As such, this post is to welcome any member of the Hicks, Broyles, Crockett or Jones clan that has the opportunity to visit the Electronic Village.

Many of you know that I have been documenting our family history for quite awhile. I haven't done much with the genealogy database in the past few years. Perhaps some reminders from you in this part of cyberspace will get me going again.

Anyhow, I hope that some of you will add your insights to the mix.

January 16, 2007

Media Lead

For a USA TODAY story about small businesses and technology, Entrepreneurs reporter Jim Hopkins is asking small business owners to answer the following questions by the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 18: What are the three most frustrating technology challenges your company faces today? Please be as specific as possible. Send your name, title, business name, city, state, product or services sold, number of employees, business website and phone number to mailto:jhopkins@usatoday.com

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

My cousin, Ajuan Mance, provided some insightful thoughts on today's MLK holiday in her 'Black on College' blog. I imagine that the holiday and the memory of the man is different for everyone. He died when I was nine years old. My memory of him is based primarily on books, movies and television. I have made presentations to African American groups on MLK in the past.

However, I join with Ajuan in wondering if there are too many of us that take his memory and this particular holiday for granted? Personally, I plan to head downtown and visit the National Underground Freedom Railroad Center today. That will be my personal way to make this more than simply an 'off day'.

January 15, 2007

Cincinnati Business Incubator (CBI)

My consulting firm has a number of contracts. The largest is with the Cincinnati Business Incubator (CBI). CBI is one of over 1,100 business incubators located in the United States. Heck, there are five business incubators located in the greater Cincinnati area along. CBI was created in 1989 with a mission to support the growth & development of small businesses owned by women and people of color.

I came on as the president/CEO of the non-profit incubator in May 2003. There were 17 small business owners under contract with CBI in May 2003. We have 48 clients under contract today. Over the course of time, I will share information on both CBI and our clients here in the Electronic Village blogspot. I hope that many of our clients, sponsors and supporters will find this part of cyberspace and share their insights as well.

I also encourage any of you that either have a small business or consider owning one in the future to share your thoughts, questions and insights.

January 14, 2007

Supplier Diversity

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking is the leading authority on issues related to minority business development and supplier diversity. Their mission is to help their clients improve the outcomes of their investments in these areas. They are an objective, balanced and practical resource committed to providing leading edge insight to their clients about the evolving opportunities and challenges related to race and business.

The brother that runs The Institute is Dr. Melvin J. Gravely. Mel lives in the greater Cincinnati area. I've known him since I came to Cincinnati OH in the mid-1990s. He is truly a remarkable brother with strong beliefs about all issues related to entrepreneurship and business ownership. In fact, he recently accepted a position as the director of the Minority Business Accelerator working with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Anyhow, Mel publishes a newsletter each month. The title of the current newsletter is Getting to the Next Level: The Real Challenges of Supplier Diversity.

January 13, 2007


Hotep! This is my first attempt to create a blog. I must admit that I am experimenting. As such, I welcome and all suggestions or insights that you might share. I do hope that we have a regular flow of visitors to our Electronic Village. Time will tell.

In any case, one of my passions is working with a group of African American IT professionals in a national association known as BDPA. I have been very active with BDPA since joining in 1989. I served from 1999-2001 as the president of BDPA Cincinnati chapter. Our chapter won the prestigious BDPA Chapter of the Year award for work performed in 2000-2001 under my leadership. I served as the National BDPA president-elect in 2002-2003 and National BDPA president in 2004-2005. Currently, I sit on the national board as the immediate past president.

In July 2006, I took on the challenge of serving as the executive director of the BDPA Education & Technology Foundation (BETF). BETF is the fundraising arm for BDPA on a national level ... inclusive of the 54 local chapters. We raise funds through grants, raffles, events and so forth. This is a new challenge and I look forward to learning more about it.

I have been a part of the BDPA family for almost 20 years. I hope that we can talk about it over the coming weeks and months here in the Electronic Village.