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Small Biz Insider: How a Black Entrepreneur Took Challenges and Created Opportunities

8/2/20
Ed Ryland, CCIM, MCR, is the President & CEO of ARVO Realty Advisors, a full-service commercial real estate firm based in Houston.  Ryland started his company from a box filled with ideas on of index cards. Today, his business is global, representing corporate, governmental, and small business clients in the buying, selling or leasing of office, retail, industrial land properties.  In addition to running his company with offices in Houston and New York, Ryland has established himself as a leading voice in the minority business community and mentor to many minority business executives.  He was the first African American in the Houston region to obtain the CCIM (certified commercial investment member) designation, which is often referred to as the PhD of commercial real estate within the industry.  While spending his career in a predominately white industry, Ryland has experienced the challenges that minority-owned entrepreneurs face first-hand. He's traveled the country to ask CEOs one question, “What do you think it takes to build a successful minority-owned company?” On this edition of Small Biz Insider, Ryland discusses challenges minority business-owners face and strategies for growing a successful small business.  Here are the key takeaways:  Disparities facing minority entrepreneurs: Ryland said there's a tremendous gap between revenue earned by African American and revenue earned by non-minority entrepreneurs, with Black entrepreneurs earning an average of $58,000 in annual revenue compared to $558,000 for non-minorities. He also discussed how there is a biased perception that minorities can only provide products and services in certain categories, which leads to a limited scope of opportunities, particularly within professional services that face challenges with diversity and inclusion with deeply entrenched histories that make breaking in and building relationships challenging.    Keys to building a successful small business: Ryland explained ARVO Realty Advisors has built a culture of personnel that consistently looks at ways to be creative and innovative, which gives the business an edge in providing value added services to current and future customers. “We don’t run from the problems, we run to the challenges.” In addition to having the right personnel around you, Ryland shared that critical aspects to building a successful small business are focusing on your capital and financing and building a strategic business and marketing strategy. He shared how these principles have allowed ARVO Realty Advisors to remain nimble during the pandemic, which has hit both commercial real estate and minority-owned businesses particularly hard.  The Small Biz Insider digital series highlights innovative business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders of the greater Houston area who are making a big impact in the small business community. The Small Biz Matters Business Resource Group (BRG) offers curated resources, digital programming, and a valuable platform to champion business connections and information.
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Lawmakers Anticipate COVID-19 Implications for Upcoming Legislative Session

7/14/20
Texas lawmakers anticipate the global pandemic will have implications for the 87th Texas legislative session, potentially impacting issues such as the state budget as well as health care costs.  Three state lawmakers discussed the upcoming legislative session during the Partnership's Future of Texas Business Resource Group virtual event on July 10. Partnership Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Lindsay Munoz moderated the discussion, featuring: State Senator Nathan Johnson of Senate District 16 Texas House Public Health Committee Chair Senfronia Thompson of House District 141 Texas House County Affairs Committee Chair Garnet Coleman of House District 147 COVID-19  The panel discussed Texas' response to the pandemic. Senator Johnson laid out the importance of moving through the rise in confirmed cases and improving contact tracing programs. Representative Coleman noted the importance of collecting data on the virus' impact on racial and ethnic groups across Texas. Representative Thompson highlighted how the virus has emphasized racial and socioeconomic disparities. Access to Health and Health Care In response to COVID-19 and the state's ongoing health needs, these legislators discussed proposals to improve Texans' access to care. Senator Johnson pointed to methods of investing in the social determinants of health to lower health care costs. Concerning access to mental and public health care, Representative Thompson and Representative Coleman discussed ensuring the funding for the health care safety net, including the 1115 Waiver and DSRIP funding. The panel of legislators agreed that the state should approach health care issues as an investment. They discussed a variety of methods to protect access to care and address the population of individuals between the 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level who need affordable, quality care. State Budget While the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget is still being calculated, legislators anticipate that the next biennial budget will involve significant reductions. Representative Thompson discussed potential reductions to state health care services. She also noted the importance of protecting public education funding. Regarding the transformational school finance reform legislation passed last session, Representative Thompson said, "House Bill 3 was the first time that we did not fund public education based on zip codes." In comparison to the Great Recession state budget of 2011, Representative Coleman said that "We have been able to crawl out of holes before, but this one is different." It is possible that legislators may consider alternative revenue sources, including re-examining the tax structure for exemptions.  The state lawmakers concluded that we will have a much clearer picture of the state budget in the months approaching session, which begins January 12, 2021, as federal stimulus funds flow into the state and the effects of the pandemic continue.  Future of Texas presentations are open to Partnership members. Members also have ongoing access to a recording of the presentation. Learn more about membership.  Learn what other Texas lawmakers anticipate for the upcoming legislative session here. See the Partnership’s COVID-19 Business Resource page for the latest updates and guidance. Learn more about the Future of Texas Business Resource Group. 
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Cari Broderson
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