It’s my pleasure and delight to welcome you to the 2018 State of Black North Carolina Conference, presented by Black Business Ink magazine and BBM Strategic Marketing Services. As president and chief executive officer of Black Business Media LLC – the parent of both companies – as well as the founder and convener of the State of Black North Carolina Conference, I am excited that this summit on the status of African Americans across our beautiful state is about to get under way … and we’re humbled to be bringing it to you.

Our very first conference was held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina 15 years ago, in May 2003. It was at that conference that Black Business Ink magazine was introduced into the marketplace, filling a void that was much-needed to champion minority-owned businesses across the Piedmont Triad and throughout North Carolina. And 15 years later, Black Business Ink is still telling your stories. We hope that you will find time in your busy schedules to come out and help celebrate our 15th anniversary. The three days of May 9-11, 2018, will be filled with revelry and purpose, jolliness as well as seriousness. Some of the anniversary activity highlights include an electrifying awards ceremony on May 9th at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem to honor Black Business Ink’s “50 Most Influential African Americans in the Piedmont Triad” – leaders who make our city, region and state a better place.

We – inclusive of outstanding conference steering and honorary committees – have assembled the finest blue-ribbon panels for May 10th and May 11th at The Benton. Nearly three dozen panelists representing business, education, politics, economic development, fundraising, women’s empowerment, health, and many other disciplines will address pertinent issues impacting our communities in a non-positive way. It is my hope, as well as my expectation, that during this two-day summit and awards ceremony that you will be inspired by something you hear, something you see, or someone you meet. Wherever you may find your inspiration, please allow it to be the fuel that energizes you to return to your respective communities with the passion and the commitment to make a difference in the lives of African Americans across this beautiful, yet complex, state we call home. I look forward to seeing you in May.

Richard L. Williams
Founder & Convener
State of Black North Carolina Conference