Sunday, January 27, 2002

Pat Simmons

Alliance more than networking

By John Eckberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Commerce may be the goal of the 6-month-old Diversity Business Alliance, an association of small Tristate companies and their executives that meets once a month, but cooperation is the means.

        Pat Simmons, the 33-year-old diversity coordinator for S.J. Bailey Inc. and an independent consultant, was one of a handful of local business people who created the alliance last summer.

        It would be a way for companies to network, then perhaps generate and direct business and purchase orders to alliance members.

        A few people showed at that first meeting, but before 2001 ended, 15 executives were attending regularly.

        “We want to make the minority dollar work itself within its own community — to not depend upon the big corporations,” Mr. Simmons said.

        That's not to say that spending from large corporations will be ignored. The group realizes that big companies have a lot of weight — and weight is a good thing.

        “We know there is a need to do business with large corporations. We are not going to exclude them, but we are first looking at spending dollars amongst each other,” Mr. Simmons said.

        It's not just an assortment of executives trading business cards, either. The biggest obstacle so far has been a fairly pedestrian issue: figuring out the best time and place for busy people to meet.

        An educational component is planned for the months and years to come.

        Called Growth to Entrepreneurship, the program is expected to fund 10 annual partial-educational scholarships for higher education or trade-school tuition, each worth $1,000 to $1,500.

        It also hopes to create a climate of public service by sending speakers to elementary and high schools to talk about initiative, entrepreneurship and the importance of education.


        Call 675-6537 for information about meeting sites and times.


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