“We Have Got To Reach Higher Heights,” Congressman Cummings Said At The CBCF “Economic Recovery Forum”

Elsie Scott

Elsie Scott, President of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation said, "it's exciting to be in Baltimore to talk about small businesses." Report and photos by Ibrahim Dabo

Many business leaders in Maryland attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) “Economic Recovery Forum” on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in February.

Held at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, on October 31, 2009, the forum was geared at providing business professionals an opportunity to learn about resources available through the Recovery Act in their local area to help them grow their business.

Elsie Scott

Scott said the CBCF does forums around the country, including in Congressional Districts, and also sponsors the Annual Legislative Conference

Elsie L. Scott, President and CEO of CBCF, spoke about her organization and some of its activities.

“We are a non-profit education policy institute,” Scott said, adding that the organization works on a number of programs, and part of its mission is to work to develop the next generation of African American policy leaders.

“We do that through providing scholarship, fellowship, and internship to deserving young people from around the country,” Scott said.

She said a few years ago CBCF partnered with Citi to start bringing Economic Empowerment Forums out to Congressional Districts, and after the ARRA was passed in Congress, they decided to do something to break down the Act into a resource guide so that the African American community can understand what it is all about, and what it means to people involved in business.


CBCF published a Resource Guide on the Stimulus Bill

The guide—The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009: A Resource Guide for African Americans—was prepared by Dr. Alana C. Hackshaw, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the CBCF, and was distributed to guests who attended the forum.

“It gives you some of the basic provisions of this [American Recovery and Reinvestment] Act, normally known as the Stimulus Act,” Scott said, adding that through these forums, they try to talk about what the Act means to businesses.

Reginald G. Exum

Reginald G. Exum, Vice President/Community Relations Officer, Citi, said they are doing their best to make communities better

“We want to make sure that regardless of what people are saying, we are going to continue to be a part of the solution to what’s happening with the recovery today,” said Reginald G. Exum, Vice President/Community Relations Officer, South Atlantic Region, Citi.

Exum said over the past years, Citi has given a few billion dollars in credit commitment to consumers and business owners, adding that his organization has also worked with a lot of officials around the country, including with Congressman Elijah Cummings’ staff, in helping to prevent foreclosure.

“Today’s event is the second of eight that’s going to happen around the country, in communities around the country,” Exum said. The first forum was held in Miami, Florida, early this year.

“So, we will continue to do this and we will continue to do our best to make communities better because we want to be there with you,” Exum said.

U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7) commended Dr. Elsie Scott for her outstanding leadership at the CBCF.


Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD-7) was featured at the CBCF Economic Recovery Forum in Baltimore

“It’s one thing to take an organization, look at it, and try to… and keep it in place. It’s another thing to build it and make it better, so that future generations might be inspired by your work and then build on what you do, and Dr. Scott is such a leader,” Cummings said.

He praised Dr. Scott’s staff for their diligence and described them as a “high expectation group of folks” for having pulled “every string that they can pull, every person that they can pull, [and] every aspect that they can pull” to put a great event together.


The CBCF's Economic Recovery Forum in Baltimore attracted high-profile professionals working with the government, and business leaders

“Look at that book, the one on the Stimulus Bill,” Cummings said, referring to the Resource Guide on the ARRA. “See how they put [it] together. If you want an example of excellence, that’s what it’s all about.”

He encouraged guests to think big, so that they can go “where the big boats go.”

Cummings spoke about some of the challenges being faced today. He urged people to make the best of opportunities, broaden their networks, and see how they can do business with one another.


Cummings said he is tired of seeing a 'culture of low expectation,' urging everyone 'to reach for the very best.'

He said the culture of mediocre, low expectation, and failing to act must be turned around into something more positive and rewarding, instead of a “…culture of saying, ‘I’m not going to do that because it is inconvenient,’ understanding that they need to sacrifice for a moment so they can have long terms gains and opportunities.”

“We have got to reach higher heights, and we’ve got to reach for the very best,” Cummings said.


Melanie Campbell, Executive Director and CEO, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation was a moderator at the Economic Recovery Forum

Melanie L. Campbell, Executive Director and CEO at The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, moderated Plenary Sessions I and II, “Update and Assessment of Recovery Act Implementation” and “The Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on your Community,” respectively.

Plenary Session I focused on how funding streams are being used to provide resources to communities, and other issues that include policy and funding; while Plenary Session II looked into the impact of the ARRA on economic and small business development in Maryland. 


Attendees at the Economic Recovery Forum were informed about resources available to help them grow their business

Brief Overview

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is the most comprehensive economic recovery legislation in the U.S. since the New Deal of the 1930s. Also known as the Stimulus Bill, it was designed to stimulate the American economy due to the economic crisis. Its package includes Federal funds to local states and local communities for education, workforce development, saving and creating jobs, energy efficiency, health care, social services and other public and private entities.

Panel Members

Plenary I (Update and Assessment of Recovery Act Implementation)


L-R: Donna Gambrell, Joseph Jordan, David Hinson, & Garrick T. Davis

Garrick T. Davis, Policy Analyst, Recovery Implementation, Office of the Vice President; Donna Gambrell, Director, CDFI Fund, Department of Treasury; David Hinson, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency; and Joseph Jordan, Associate Administrator for Government Contracting & Business Development, U.S. Small Business Administration.

Plenary II (The Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on your Community)

Panel 2

L-R: Elaine McCubbin, Stephen Umberger, Carla Nelson, Devon Dodson, & Eric Brenner

Eric Brenner, Grants Director, Maryland Governor’s Grants Office; Devon Dodson, Director of Legislation, Policy, and Special Projects, Maryland Energy Administration; Elaine McCubbin, ARRA Director for Business & Economic Development for the Greater Baltimore Area, Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development; Carla Nelson, Director, Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development; and Stephen Umberger, District Director, Baltimore District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration.


Luwanda Jenkins, Special Secretary, Governor's Office of Minority Affairs, moderated the Breakout Session I

Breakout Session I (Small Business Opportunities: Federal and State Funded Projects)

Reggie Anderson, President, Reggie Anderson-C. Jones Trucking; Paula B. Cullings, Director, Office of Fair Practices, Maryland Transit Administration; C. Alan Krimm, Office of Construction Contract Awards, Maryland State Highway Administration; Oliver J. Phillips, Assistant District Director, Baltimore District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration; Stanley Tucker, President and CEO, Meridian Management Group; and Luwanda W. Jenkins, Special Secretary of Minority Affairs, Office of the Governor — Moderator

Breakout Session II (Preparing to Start Your Small Business)


Carla Nelson, Director, Mayor's Office of Minority and Women-Owned Buisness Development, moderated the Breakout Session II

Natalie Cofield, President, NMC Consulting Group; Omar Muhammad, Director, Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center – Morgan State University;  Paul Taylor, Executive Director of the City of Baltimore Small Business Resource Center; Javier von Westphalen-Pena, Head, Baltimore City Small Business Development Center; and Carla A. Nelson, Director, Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development — Moderator.

Also see:
· Congressman Elijah Cummings Emphasizes The Need To Know Technology
· CBCF’s “Economic Recovery Forum” Lays The Basics On “Preparing To Start Your Business”
· Maryland State Officials and Business Leaders Gather To Discuss New Business Strategies
· Ross: We Need To View Security As An Investment In Our Mission’s Success
· Exclusive Interview: Liberia’s Kimmie Weeks Fosters Hope And Change Worldwide
· Exclusive Interview/Profile: Miatta Dabo Optimizes Her Talents To Inspire And Serve
· Click on the album below for photos taken at the Forum (All photos by Ibrahim Dabo)

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Economic Recovery Forum

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