More than a hundred business professionals attended the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC) spring membership mixer supporting African American-owned businesses through networking, education, community involvement and legislative advocacy.

Coordinated in collaboration with the John M. Langston Bar Association and Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the meeting was held at the downtown Omni Los Angeles Hotel. Those in attendance included financial planners, information technology experts, and business professionals from a wide range of industries. In addition to an evening of networking, GLAAACC provided food and smooth jazz by saxophonist Ron Deezy.

“We’ve seen an explosion of opportunities for small businesses owners and entrepreneurs doing business locally, nationally and globally,” said Angela Gibson, GLAAACC president. She explained that the chamber has a strong focus on working with local and state politicians to help minority companies access capital and provide fair access to state and city contracts. She also spoke of GLAAACC’s focus on working with nonprofit organizations to benefit the community, as well as providing scholarships to students in high-risk/disadvantaged areas.

Other speakers included Sherri Cunningham, president of the Black Women Lawyers; Shaeideh Prince of the Union Rescue Mission, and Charles Franklin, founder of GLAAACC’s Business Evolution program.

Franklin explained that Business Evolution’s focus is to, “Partner with large corporations (Fortune 500 companies) to mentor small businesses in the areas of advertising, marketing and provide access to financing.” He listed Microsoft, Aegon, AEG, Union Bank and Wells Fargo as some of the corporations that have played a large part in the program.

While some aspiring entrepreneurs are putting their ambitions on hold because of the recession, this is not the case for many Black business owners. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, Black-owned firms have increased by 60.5 percent from 2002 to 2007. This translates into 1.9 million businesses within the United States.

On a local level, Los Angeles County has the second highest number of Black-owned firms, with more 59,000.

GLAAACC was founded in 1991 by Gene Hale, president of G & C Equipment Corp., and the late Homer Broome, former president of Marvid Associates, along with a group of business owners and executives.

For more information on GLAAACC, call (323) 292-1297 or visit their website at: www.glaaacc.org.