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Partner up for success, says Economic Development Forum keynoter

4W5A2420-M-1-600Warren Thompson guides the largest minority-owned restaurant/hospitality company in the country, with revenues of over $320 million. He knows about the value of partnerships.

On Wednesday (Aug. 28), Thompson, president and chairman of the Thompson Hospitality Corporation, pitched the importance of partnership and having like-minded partners while delivering the keynote address at the Economic Development Forum Power Breakfast at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

The Mid-South Minority Business Continuum (MMBC) produces the Economic Development Forum (EDF) annually. For President & CEO Luke Yancy III and the MMBC team, the 2013 Economic Development Forum is another step in an ongoing push to grow minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs).

This year's forum kicked-off Tuesday with a business reception and concludes on Thursday.

Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. welcomed participants to the Power Breakfast and after a sponsor's spotlight segment, Martha Perine Beard, regional executive of the Federal Reserve Bank – Memphis Branch, Thompson.

Radiating the spirit of a diligent entrepreneur, Thompson highlighted peak relationships throughout his career that have helped shape his business into a success beacon. In 1992, he leveraged the buyout of 31 Big Boy (Shoney's) restaurants.

4W5A2847-M-2-600"Be willing to hustle," Thompson advised the attendees. "Get the job done before others realize there is a job to get done."

After the breakfast session, which was emceed by WREG TV news anchor Markova Reed, a ribbon-cutting ceremony signaled that participants were free to make their way to the exhibit hall and to the various seminars that featured representatives from myriad industries and agencies

WMC-TV5 news anchor Kym Clark guided the luncheon session, with MMBC Continuum President & CEO Luke Yancy III introducing the keynote speaker, Cedrick Sparks, the executive director for the City of Birmingham Mayor's Office – Division of Youth Services.

Sparks exuded a long-standing passion for supporting the youth. His witty, sermon-like message registered, with the audience giving him a standing ovation.

Business owners, said Sparks, must pave the way for future generations.

"Are you living the dream, or are you a part of the nightmare?" Sparks asked, connecting his speech to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his now famous "I Have A Dream" speech.

On Thursday, the EDF luncheon speaker will be Dr. Ting Ho, executive director of Symphony Holding. He will address Business Acceleration with a National/Global Strategy.

Featured seminars will be held throughout the day and followed by the closing ceremony.

The Business Expo floor will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will feature 150-plus businesses.

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