West Coast business is expected to receive a massive jolt this summer, something that may kick-start a revolution among both small and large entrepreneurs. The groundwork has already been laid.

Minority business ownership has grown significantly faster than the national average for more than a decade, according to data released by the Census Bureau.

While overall business ownership in the United States increased by 10 percent between 1997 and 2002, the number of Black-owned businesses jumped 45 percent, Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 31 percent, and Asian-owned businesses 24 percent.

Businesses owned by women, regardless of race, grew 20 percent.

From 2002 to 2007, the number of Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million, more than triple the national rate of 18 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. Over the same period, receipts generated by Black-owned businesses increased 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion.

“Black-owned businesses continued to be one of the fastest growing segments of our economy, showing rapid growth in both the number of businesses and total sales during this time period,” said Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg.

However, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) impressive gains made by minority-owned businesses over the past few years stand to be squandered unless new growth strategies are adapted to compete in a rapidly changing business market.

That’s where the West Coast Expo comes in.

Our Weekly has over the course of six short years continued to expand its product line to include the Urban Media Foundation, an innovative after-school program for students ages 14 to 17, which uses journalism to positively impact at-risk youth; Healthier You magazine, a bimonthly healthcare magazine that provides the African American community with vital information on health and social issues; the Antelope Valley edition of Our Weekly, and Careers and Education, a magazine that gives students and their families a comprehensive look at what is available from scholarship opportunities to jobs in the emerging “green” economy.

And now the West Coast Expo has been established for Aug. 12-14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The Expo is a multicultural exposition and trade show for small, medium and large businesses that have goods, products and services to market. The Expo will feature pavilions for Business, Technology, Green issues and Health, and will offer those who attend unique, informative and exciting opportunities to interact with experts, specialists and vendors, and enable them to learn about, evaluate, test and purchase products and services.

This three-day signature event will bring together professionals from these sectors, as well as eco-friendly companies with a focus on sustainability to collaborate, educate, innovate, and share their expertise with business owners through:

* Nutritional demonstrations, health clinics and workshops

* Business support necessary to grow and thrive in today’s global market

* Technology usage to promote learning, facilitate growth and enable businesses us to stay connected, informed and share information cost-effectively

* Lessons on sustainability

An estimated 50,000 persons are expected to attend the West Coast Expo but preparation has been made to accommodate at least twice that number.

The Expo was created to strategically target a wide demographic, with emphasis on African American, Hispanic and Asian consumer markets, thereby offering the power of four expos under one roof and providing an experience that those in attendance cannot receive from any other expo. Its costs to vendors parallel those of similar expos in the 1980s, affording an outstanding opportunity to small businesses who might otherwise be priced out.

“We recognize the recession, and understand difficulties businesses might be facing in these times,” said Natalie Cole, CEO and publisher of Our Weekly, LLC, “thus we want to help them grow their existing business and increase new business through our pricing strategy and by introducing an innovative business and social media network.”

“As a result of our recent recession, small to medium businesses have suffered significantly. Many began to rebound in 2010, while others unfortunately closed their doors. The West Coast Expo will help to re-energize the local business climate, allowing exposure to new and not-so-new goods and services while affording businesses the opportunity to reach a robust multicultural consumer with great spending power.”

Said Our Weekly, LLC, Chief Operating Officer David Miller: “Natalie and I have over the past six years tried to come up with an annual signature event that would give our readers something to look forward to and an opportunity to build relationships with various businesses across the board.

“The West Coast Expo is not just for California businesses. We wanted it to be more of a global trade show that would include Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona. The first time out of the gate may not draw that attention. However, as time progresses, we think it will.

“In taking on a major project, there is always the question of whether it’s the right time, but we felt it was now or never for us to bring a trade show of this magnitude to the market. We are coming out of a major recession and the Expo will give businesses a chance to display their products and services to more than 50,000 attendees over a three-day period.”

In order to provide participants with the ultimate experience, the Expo has partnered with some of the largest companies across America. Corporations such as Mattel, Wells Fargo, Toyota, Verizon, Sempra Energy, Wal-Mart, US Bank, AEG and AT&T have joined with Our Weekly to produce an event that will generate the kind experience that will translate into market success and brand loyalty.

The Expo is divided into four distinct pavilions, offering a wide range of information through seminars workshops, presentations plus a job fair.

The Business Pavilion
This pavilion will focus on the marketing and selling of goods and services to consumers and entrepreneurs. Key seminars (business and consumer) will focus on literacy in business and personal finance.

The pavilion is the result of collaboration with local colleges, chambers of commerce, economists, and industry professionals and will provide a wealth of data and information on financial fitness.
Financial fitness is a key component for healthy living as it relates to both healthcare and retirement planning. With that in mind, the West Coast Expo has invited several key industry professionals to lecture and provide opportunities for limited consultation. Business owners and entrepreneurs will also have access to a wide array of financial experts, services and products.
Entrepreneurs will have access to workshops on leading business indicators and methods to thrive in business in an uncertain future.

There will also be a premiere fashion event called “Lights, Camera, Runway,” and a gifting suite, celebrating media personalities, their lifestyles. In addition to immediate and exclusive access to the paparazzi-themed event celebrating the lifestyle of media personalities, celebrities, political leaders and sponsors, participants will have an opportunity to extend their brand reach via the web, newspaper photo ops, promotional videos and social media.

The West Coast Expo estimates more that its mixed-media impressions will reach more than 1 million persons. This event is targeted to professionals, the social elite, and entertainment enthusiasts. The host and participants are among the most influential celebrities and style icons in the fashion and media industries.

Technology Pavilion
This pavilion will offer a wide range of state-of-the-art technology services and products such as computers, home theater equipment, personal electronics, cell phones, Bluetooth devices, toys, cameras, digital service providers, software, hardware, etc. to meet the needs of both consumers and business operators.

There will also be a Kids Zone in which the young and the young at heart can interact with a wide range of devices and games.

Seminars in the technology pavilion will include business solutions, smart technology, social media and establishing a website.

Green Pavilion
This pavilion will inform the public of leading-edge green products and best practices for sustainability. There will be a concerted effort to recruit the commerce and consumer communities as full participants in the national campaign to reverse global warming, ensure good water quality for all, encourage innovation in sustainability, green lifestyles and improve the health of all citizens, especially the health of youth. Exhibits will display a wide range of technology solutions, innovative products and lifestyle information.

Informational presentations will address the importance of adopting a green approach to business and lifestyle and how such choices affect national healthcare costs, access to affordable and sustainable energy, food production, and business and job opportunities.

Health Pavilion
This pavilion will focus on preventative measures that foster healthier living and fitness. Complimentary blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, prostate, HIV/AIDS, and glucose testing will be offered.

Because consumers are currently focused on making better and more informed choices in their quest to adopt healthier lifestyles, the Health Pavilion will emphasize organic foods and natural products.

This pavilion will also have cutting-edge products and services that promote looking and feeling good, including weight loss, skin care, hair care, and investing in a wardrobe. Seminars and workshops will include cooking alternatives that minimize fat, sugars, salts and bad cholesterol, and emphasize fitness and exercise instructions.

West Coast Expo participants can also expect a Junior Business Camp (JBC). The camp is part of the Urban Media Foundation’s Youth Entrepreneurship Project. Conducted every summer, it incorporates a variety of educational techniques, including classroom instructions, interactive activities, building-a-business lab, a business assessment and consultation center, and a field trip to the University of Southern California’s Marshal School of Business.

Classes will be offered to students ages 14 to 17 and are designed to introduce each participant to the idea of becoming the owner of a real business. Young people learn practical skills such as team building, leadership development, financial management, professional communication and business etiquette.

“This undertaking has required us to go out and find individuals who have an expertise in putting this all together for us,” said Miller. “We have a solid team of professionals who were able to get the ball rolling in a short period of time.

“Natalie and I have been thinking about this idea for some time now, but it wasn’t until November that we put it in black and white and shopped for sponsorships. By the end of December, we had received verbal commitments from several major sponsors that they were in on it.

“We are really excited about this opportunity and look forward to making it happen.”
For additional information call (323) 905-1306 or visit www.westcoastexpo.biz and
www.facebook.com/westcoastexpo.