The 21st annual Booker T. Washington Economic Development Summit will be held at Tuskegee University this week. The 3-day event “uses the historical and philosophical perspectives of Booker T. Washington to focus on present day changes and to promote entrepreneurship and procurement opportunities for economic development in small towns, the southern region, and rural America.”
The summit includes the Booker T. Washington Business Pitch Competition which “gives small businesses, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations the opportunity to hone their presentation skills, build confidence and present their ideas in 3 minutes or less to a panel of business leaders and entrepreneurs for the opportunity to win cash prizes and follow-up business management consultation and technical assistance.”
This year eXtension – by invitation from Dr. Ntam Baharanyi, Assistant Extension Administrator at Tuskegee University – is bringing its signature “Designathon” event to Tuskegee to engage pitch competition participants in hands-on learning activities to refine their entrepreneurial ideas and prepare their pitches.
30+ entrepreneurs representing 21 contest entries will see their plans in a new way through a concept mapping activity led by design expert Paul Pangaro and business development specialist Reneé Wallace. Facilitators from eXtension leadership will include Terry Meisenbach, Anne Adrian, and Terrence Wolfork. They will be joined by 14 Tuskegee coaches and 20 “Key Informants” from Extension, faculty and the business community who will offer expertise in various business development topics such as lending, taxes, technology, and social media marketing. These nearly 40 individuals will work together to maximize the acumen and skills of the entrepreneurs in preparation for their participation in the pitch contest held on Thursday afternoon.
This collaboration between eXtension Foundation and member institution Tuskegee University is intended to energize and strengthen the summit to produce greater local impact in terms of successfully launched small businesses. On the eXtension side, this event provides an opportunity to apply the successful Designathon model in a new way: to support objectives of Extension work in rural business and economic development.