The events involving the national office this year continue at a pretty good pace as we plan for the first quarter board of directors meeting scheduled for March 18th. The Board will have a full agenda with the anticipation of substantive reports on the planning for the 2010 conference in Columbus, Ohio and the early plans for the 2011 Conference which will be held at a still to be determined site in the Northeastern region. There will be a report on the “Energy and Climate Change Summit” and an update on the AABE scholarship program.
Today, more and more opportunities are presenting themselves for small businesses in the energy/environment sector. As a result, there is a growing array of resources to help those who want to take the step into the entrepreneur world. With the assistance of the Atlanta Chapter, the AABE has joined with the Morehouse College Entrepreneur Center (MCEC) in its efforts to engage the African American community about the business opportunities in the energy and environment sectors. On February 25th, MCEC, the AABE, and the National Black MBA Association jointly supported a conference on campus that attracted business luminaries from far and wide. Among those addressing the attendees was David Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency who gave an outstanding presentation to let us all know how important small business development is to the economic future of our families and our communities. Director Hinson will be speaking at the AABE national Convention in May.
You will recall that in December of 2009, at the request of the US Department of Energy, we undertook a review of low-income housing in the nation of Morocco. The final report will be submitted within the next few weeks, but even in advance of the completion of that assignment, the Association has been asked by Africa Ventures Partners to participate in a weeklong orientation to business opportunities in South Africa called “USA-SA Power Partnership Program”. We have agreed to participate in this April 2-9 orientation program and to share the information provided in those meetings with the AABE membership, especially those who might be interested in partnering with South African companies on future projects.
More recently, the National Office has begun discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency to identify ways that the Association can better inform our communities about the issues faced by the Agency and the impact that those issues has on communities of color. To date the discussions have been broadly exploratory, but we all hope to identify some areas that might be fruitful for long-term cooperation.
I also had the opportunity to attend a briefing at the White House hosted by Secretary of Transportation LaHood and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Donavan on the administration’s efforts to promote and support sustainable urban development. The comments by the Secretaries and their staffs was that the Departments were in strong collaboration to ensure that transportation planning, housing planning, and commercial development and land use planning were done together. They further noted that EPA, DOE and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are also key elements of successful urban planning efforts. They emphasized the roles that light rail, mass transit, smart grid and distributed generation have in the planning process. This approach has significant implications for both energy use and power infrastructure.
Finally, a big “Thank You” to the New York Metro Area Chapter for the invitation to attend their annual networking reception which was held on the campus of Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now New York Polytechnical Institute). One of our association’s strongest supporters, Kevin Burke, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Consolidated Edison was the host of this wonderful event and offered accolades to the NYMAC chapter as well as the national organization. While in New York we also had the opportunity to spend some high quality time with Craig Ivey, President of Con Edison and we participated in a panel discussion on Energy in the Northeast at National Grid.
With the 1st quarter coming to an end, our organization continues to be recognized for its expertise and for being a resource nationally and now internationally. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore the opportunities that come before us and more importantly I look forward to sharing those opportunities with you.