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Banquet notes advance of black businesses in area
Mayor James Thomas Web
Mayor James “Jim” Thomas, far right, first African-American mayor of Hinesville, is shown with his campaign treasurer Yvonne Woods, center, and Dorothy Lewis, a campaign worker, at the AABOC Awards Banquet. - photo by Special
    About 300 people came out on Saturday to participate in the third annual African American Business Owner’s Coalition awards banquet. The event, held at the Russell Union Ballroom on the campus of Georgia Southern University, recognized the achievements of several prominent Statesboro business owners. It also offered information and motivation for economic and community development.
    Guest speaker MaRonde Lumpkin-Lotson, economic development director for the city of Savannah, pointed out how the economic impact of minorities in the United States has grown.
  “We are at an exciting time when, by 2008, according to research from the University of Georgia, the buying power of minorities (including African-Americans) will exceed $1.8 trillion,” Lotson said. “This figure will outpace the spending of (other) consumers by 8 percent. The African-American portion of this figure amounts to $345 billion.”
    The message, according to Lotson, is that the buying power of black Americans has increased 165 percent between 1990 and 2007 which directly compares to the 137 percent growth rate of disposable incomes in that same time span.
    “Truly, African-Americans are beginning to flex their economic muscle,” Lotson said.
    James “Jim” Thomas, first African-American mayor of Hinesville, said: “It does my heart good to see so many African-American businesses in the audience.
 We need to tap into some of this intellectual wealth here in Statesboro and bring it down south to Hinesville. We invite you to come to us with some good business plans and some solid marketing plans and help us move things forward in Fort Stewart and Hinesville.”
    Award recipients during the evening included Cleve White Nissan and Craig R. Tremble & Sons as Co-Business Leaders of the Year, Bennett Rentals as Business of the Year, Bobbie Reese owner of Ms. Bobbie’s Alterations as Entrepreneur of the Year, and Verna Bennett, owner of Bennett Rentals as Business Woman of the Year.  Recipients of the award for Youth Leader of the Year included Jordan Hendrix, Lashondria Johnson and Carolyn Lee.
    The banquet also served as a vehicle to announce plans for the AABOC’s upcoming Economic Empowerment Summit scheduled for April 26, 2008 at the Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Center at Georgia Southern.  
    Curtis Woody, board president of the business coalition, said: “We’re excited about the progress of planning for the summit so far. This event is another way for the AABOC to deliver value to its members and offer them opportunities to expand their business knowledge as well as network with other professionals.”
    For additional information on ABOC and for details on the upcoming Economic Empowerment Summit, contact Woody at or at (912) 682-1611.
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