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Annual economic development summit to address key business tactics during the pandemic

September 11, 2020

Contact: Jacquelyn Carlisle, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences

Booker T. Washington statue - "Lifting the Veil."

The Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program is preparing virtually for the 24th annual Booker T. Washington Economic Development Summit, “Growing Your 21st Century Business in Today's New ‘Economic’ Normal." The summit will be held September 15–17, 2020 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. CST each day. This year’s theme will focus on access to capital, digital marketing, and risk management.

The Booker T. Washington Economic Development Summit uses the historical and philosophical perspectives of Dr. Washington to focus on present day challenges and opportunities to promote entrepreneurship and community economic development in small towns, the southern region, and rural America.

“We wanted to provide information for attendees that would help them pivot and/or stay viable through this challenging time,” said Gary Walton, Chairman, Booker T. Washington Economic Development Summit.

“The first focus of ‘Access to Capital’ will be providing information for potential and current entrepreneurs/business owners to find public and private funding source, this is extremely important during this pandemic,” said Walton.

The summit will also feature a dialogue about the benefits of digital marketing and its necessity for businesses during critical times.

“The importance of branding, digital strategy, social and content marketing, and the monetization of digital media is crucial in creating and maintaining a presence during difficult times,” added Walton.

During the pandemic addressing access to broadband has become an essential necessity, especially for rural communities.

The conference will close out with a presentation on risk management, during which the focuses will highlight how to adapt and transition during these uncertain times.

“We are delighted to address the impact of the pandemic on business and concluding with a report on the state of microbusinesses in Alabama,” Walton concluded.

Some of the featured guests includes Tuskegee University President, Dr. Lily McNair; Alabama Deputy Commissioner of Revenue, Curtis Stewart; Liberation in a Generation founder Jeremie Greer; Smart Hustle Media, Ramon Ray; Director of Civic Innovation, Dr. Anthony Hood; Founder of Netelysis It Company, Boyd Stephens; University of Alabama Director of Socioeconomic Analysis and Demographics, Dr. Nyesha Black; Comedian, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Jermaine “Funnymaine” Johnson; Microsoft Engineer, Artist and Entrepreneur, Teddy “Stat” Phillips and EJT Consulting and Harvard PhD Candidate, Erica Jordan-Thomas.

The summit is sponsored by Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Microenterprise Network (AMN), AT&T Alabama, Regions Bank, Renasant Bank and Truist Bank.

To find more information and register, visit The Zoom information will be sent after registering. If you have any questions, contact Gary Walton (

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