For release: February 9, 2010
For press information, contact Tom Mendina, 901-678-4310
In conjunction with Black History Month 2010, the University of Memphis will host
an economic empowerment panel discussion featuring some of Memphis’ premiere entrepreneurs.
“Black Economic Empowerment in Memphis and the American Dream” will be held Wednesday,
Feb. 17, at noon in the Ned McWherter Library, Room 225. The public is invited to
the free event.
Panel members will include Art Gilliam, president and CEO of Gilliam Communications
Inc.; Carolyn Hardy, president and CEO of Hardy Bottling Company, a division of Chism
Hardy Enterprises LLC; Pat and Gina Neely, owners of Neely’s Bar-B-Que and hosts of
the Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys; Marvell Mitchell, managing partner of Mitchell Technology Group LLC; and Christian
Davis, president and CEO of Amir Companies.
Gilliam holds many firsts: he became owner of WLOK, the first black-owned radio station
in Memphis, and was the first black reporter for The Commercial Appeal. He also was a news anchor and reporter for WMC-TV. Gilliam has been inducted into
the Society of Entrepreneurs and serves on the advisory board of the U of M’s College
of Communication and Fine Arts.
Hardy (BBA ’74, MBA ’87) is president of one of the largest minority-woman-owned
companies in Tennessee. She was named 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year by the U of M’s
Fogelman College of Business & Economics.
In addition to operating their legendary Memphis barbecue restaurants, the Neelys
reach five million viewers each week with their Food Network show. They authored the
best-selling Down Home with the Neelys Southern Family Cookbook.
Mitchell (BBA ’77) was appointed an initial member of the Tennessee Educational Lottery
board of directors; he is vice chairman of the board and currently chairs its minority
procurement committee. Mitchell is a past president of the Black Business Association
Davis received the Gary L. Rowe Young Entrepreneur Award last fall from the Memphis
Business Development Center and has won Benny Awards from the Black Business Association
in new entrepreneurship categories. He currently serves as project manager for the
New Town Center at Soulsville. Amir Companies includes real estate, commercial cleaning
and entertainment businesses.
The moderator will be Roby Williams, president and CEO of the Black Business Association.
The event is sponsored by the University of Memphis Libraries and the U of M’s Office
of Minority Affairs, with support from the Black Business Association and Friends
of the University Libraries.
For more information, contact Tom Mendina at 901-678-4310 or firstname.lastname@example.org