BY CHARLES MOSELEY
NNPA NEWS SERVICE
FORT LAUDERDALE – In today’s highly volatile socio-economic political climate, it is rare that you find elected officials, civil rights leaders, and the top heads from the business community in agreement on virtually anything.
Recently, however, the stars appeared to align as all of the aforementioned entities joined forces to announce that the National Urban League will hold its annual convention next July in Broward County.
National League President and CEO Marc Morial made the announcement recently during an address before a group of local business leaders, elected officials, and local residents attending a Broward County Urban League Business Leadership Breakfast. The event took place at the Broward County Urban League-Sunrise Health Community Empowerment Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“Two years ago after the Urban League held its Mid-Winter Conference in Fort Lauderdale, we sat down with Germaine Smith-Baugh, Nikki Grossman and her team from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.” Morial said.
“During the process of thinking about where we would meet, there were all these cities on the list: Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Houston, among others. After about 30 minutes I came away convinced that this community would be an excellent host of the Urban League annual conference.
“We are excited and I want to pay tribute to Germaine, the CVB, and the whole team here in Broward that twisted our arm. It didn’t take much twisting to convince us that this was in deed a great location for our annual conference.”
Nikki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors & Convention Bureau, said: “We are so honored delighted and thrilled that we were able to come through that selection process and have your staff to work with us so diligently that you were able to make that recommendation.
“It will never get better than this, I will tell you that. With the 2015 National Urban League Conference right around the corner we’re working hard to make this the best conference ever, the best Urban League experience ever, and the best destination experience ever.”
The Urban League’s National Conference will attract some 10,000 participants and Urban League officials predict will have an estimated economic impact on the local economy in the range of $8 to $10 million dollars.
Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness viewed the news of the Urban League National Conference coming to Broward County in historical as well as from a pragmatic economic perspective.
“It’s a powerful thing with 40 years of the Urban League with 100 years of Broward being an incorporated county. It tells the story of how far our country has come- our community has come, from days when many of us wouldn’t be welcome in hotels.
“Today, we’re giving them everything they need to be accommodated here in Broward County to show that we are a united community, a community moving forward working to insure that all our people are empowered. This is what the Urban League is about – empowerment. ‘’
Four focus areas
Broward County Urban League President/CEO Germaine Smith-Baugh recounted, “There are several things that we’re focused on but very much so, four areas; education, jobs, housing, and health and in those four areas what we want to do is really begin to close the income gap for families that we’re helping to understand that they need to build their assets, how do they grow their assets, to make their families more sufficient.”
She added, “One of the things that’s really important is that we highlight is the impact that the Urban League is having on our community. And the second area is being able to demonstrate the value of the national conference coming here locally.”
Former Board Chairman of the BCUL John Ruffin Jr . said, “The Urban League of Broward County is certainly a premier institution in a lot of different venues. It’s ours so we need to support it.”
Albert Tucker, Vice President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has been instrumental in recent years in attracting multi-cultural organizations to hold similar events in Broward County including, the 100 Black Men of America, National Newspaper Publishers Association, and American Tennis Association, which will be relocating their permanent home to Fort Lauderdale in a few years.
“Today is an important day because it brings together the National Urban League in conjunction with our local Urban League and most importantly our business community in terms of raising funds and awareness of economic empowerment and what’s going to take place in 2015.”
This story is special to the NNPA from the Westside Gazette.