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MED Week 2011, How MBEs Can Make Strong Business Connections

Milton Kirby, Allied Logistics founder and MED Week 2011 (Atlanta) co-chair

When Milton Kirby arrived at rolling out‘s headquarters to discuss his role as co-chair of the 29th annual Atlanta Regional Minority Development Enterprise Week, aka MED Week 2011, he was all smiles. The founder of Allied Logistics had completed his radio interview rounds and was typing feverishly on his electronic tablet, obviously catching up on missed emails and correspondence.

Here, Kirby shares what participants can expect to gain from attendance at the conference set for 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011, at the AT&T building, 725 W. Peachtree St., followed by a semi-formal awards dinner and banquet at the Georgia Power Company, 241 Ralph McGill Blvd. at 7 p.m. –yvette caslin

What is your affiliation with MED Week 2011 ?
I am a co-chair and my company, Allied Logistics, is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

Tell us about your company.
Allied Logistics was started in 2004 in my home. We match customers with the best form of transportation to move their freight. In 2009, we moved into an office space and today, we are a growing business.

Your company was awarded a $57 million federal government contract, please explain.
Allied Logistics is a part of a team spearheaded by Ralph Brown, the CEO of Trillion Communications. The contract is to provide broadband, Internet service, to under served areas in Alabama, 12 counties in the rural area. Allied Logistics coordinates freight transportation for all of the goods that have to be delivered on site or to a warehouse facility for later use.

Why is it beneficial for small and minority-owned businesses to attend MED Week 2011?
As a small-business owner, one has the opportunity to network with large corporations and other MBEs. The hosting organization, the Minority Business Development Authority (MBDA), is a federal agency whose sole responsibility is to promote and develop minority businesses. It’s a good opportunity for MBEs to make real connections and to have an opportunity to have lengthy conversations. One of the things that keeps minority businesses from doing business with other minority businesses is that they don’t know each other; they don’t know what they do, what they are capable of and what their thought processes are. If you spend some time talking to one of the larger MBEs and get to know what they are all about, you can forge a vision to do some teamwork for larger projects.

This year, we are introducing B2B matchmaking. The one-on-one sessions provide an opportunity for vetted MBEs to connect with entities like Clorox, Georgia Power, Fulton and DeKalb counties and New South Construction. We know that these MBEs are capable of providing the services that are being sourced by these organizations.

Why is it important for new MBEs to connect with veteran or seasoned MBEs?
The benefits are immeasurable. Seasoned MBEs can provide the capacity and capability. I use those words not mutually exclusive. When I say capability, I mean we can do A, B, C and D. Capacity goes further, not only can we do A, B, C and D, but we can expand it and do it in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas and California.

What advice can you offer to start-up MBEs?
First of all, in many instances start-ups are under capitalized in terms of financial and human capital. So we have to understand that starting a business and running a business will be twice as expensive as projections. When doing your budget forecast, increase your expenses by 50 percent; if you think your revenue will be $3 million cut that by 30 percent. Count on expenses being a lot higher and revenue being a lot less in those first few years.