FORT WASHINGTON — Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland Ben Jealous spoke about his economic plan and why diversity matters in the workforce at the 2018 U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) National Business Conference on July 26.
The USBC is committed to visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment through its support of African American Chamber of Commerce business organizations and their work in developing black businesses. It is an association of over 100 Black Chambers and small businesses nationwide.
The conference, which took place from July 26 to 28, is the nation’s premier educational conference for African-American entrepreneurs. Its purpose is to bring together successful business leaders, entrepreneurs and chamber of commerce executives, corporations, national policymakers and government agencies for panels, workshops and networking session to grow black businesses.
The first day of the conference brought together black business owners, young and old, to the Woodrow Wilson Ballroom of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in Fort Washington for a panel discussion about connecting with businesses in Africa and a speech by political strategist Donna Brazile about the importance of the African American vote in the November election.
As a conference full fo African American business owners, the members of the USBC were widely in support of Jealous and his promises.
“If you heard his speech this afternoon, or you just know his platform you know that he’s about an economic agenda that includes African American businesses,” said USBC CEO and President Ron Busby. “We know that the number one concern in our community is unemployment and Ben sees African American businesses, the business startups in our communities, as that solution.”
As part of his campaign, Jealous has released a comprehensive plan to build a more inclusive and thriving economy which he touched on during his speech. His plan includes Medicare for all, education as an economic pipeline, a great cities plan to focus on workforce development, infrastructure and transportation, criminal justice reform and 100 percent reliance on clean energy.
“At its core, our economic plan is a strategy to build a tide that lifts all boats,” Jealous said. “To remove barriers to women and people of color-owned businesses, to increase investment and remove regulatory roadblocks for small businesses of all kinds and all stripes across the state and to build an education system that actually helps to fuel our economy and move forward.”
Toward the end of the activities for the day, Jealous gave a 15-minute speech about the importance of diversity in the workforce and how it will be the cornerstone of his economic plan (known as “Make it in Maryland”) should he become governor of Maryland.
“As a state, we have an opportunity here in Maryland like few others to build an inclusive 21st-century economy,” he said.
Jealous was adamant about the core of his economic plan is to create a diverse economic environment. From his perspective, we cannot “treat inclusion like it’s a nice thing to do but rather as the necessity it is.” He does not want to reward people from the most privileged zip codes but wants to give everyone a chance to succeed.
“If you look at the number of unemployed African Americans in the county, there are two million unemployed African Americans this afternoon, but there are also 2.6 African American owned businesses,” Busby said. “So Ben gets it...We have the collective power to change our community, and it starts with electing a good governor like Ben Jealous.”
During his speech, Jealous spoke about increasing technology and cybersecurity jobs in Maryland. He stated that Maryland had the lowest job growth in the region over the last year and that wages in Maryland the last three years are up hundreds of dollars while other states are up thousands of dollars partly because cybersecurity headquarters have moved to Virginia and he wants to change that.
He touched on education and healthcare in his speech. His viewpoint is that education does not only have to be affordable and leading to employment but useful in preparing students for the workforce. As far as healthcare is concerned, he said the county needs to do what every other Western nation has done, and he will ensure that Maryland s the first state to provide universal healthcare for all.
“I think all of us, black, minority, women, disabled, LGBT, all of us are looking for a voice and someone to carry that voice for us,” Busby said. “Ben Jealous understands that. As the former president of NAACP, he understands the importance of carrying the voice for the people.”