Black Enterprise President & CEO to Keynote 2018 CIAA Minority Business & Leadership Symposium - Black Enterprise

Black Enterprise President & CEO to Keynote 2018 CIAA Minority Business & Leadership Symposium

(Image: Instagram)

As a part of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) off-court lineup of events during the 2018 Basketball Tournament, the conference will host a NEXT Level: CIAA Minority Business & Leadership Symposium to be held on Thursday, March 1 from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Charlotte Convention Center. It is presented by the CIAA, Black Enterprise, and Fifth Third Bank.

Entering its third year, NEXT Level is a collaboration of business development enterprises and organizations equipped to provide comprehensive programming designed to stimulate economic and intellectual growth and development of minority business owners. The symposium will engage the multicultural business community to foster business-to-business and business-to-resource relations that will impact innovation, sustainability, and scalability.

Business owners from across the region will gain insight from CIAA corporate partners, business leaders, and business resource partners on accessing capital, understanding and communicating value proposition, building capacity, leadership that yields results, and more.

(Image: Instagram)

“We are grateful for the platform our conference has created in partnership with Black Enterprise, Fifth Third Bank, and others,” said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “The investment and commitment are a testament of each organization’s willingness to connect, build, and elevate our community and minority business leaders.”

“Fifth Third’s commitment to businesses is anchored in the belief that an environment conducive to business success is a key driver in the building and maintenance of strong and sustainable communities,” said Byna Elliott, Chief Corporate Responsibility & Reputation Officer, Senior Vice President. “We are proud to sponsor the CIAA Tournament and provide tools to empower individuals and communities.”

The symposium will feature a panel discussion of candid conversations with business leaders on building and achieving generational wealth and prosperity through business ownership. Panelists include Principal and CEO of Liquid Soul Media, Tirrell D. Whittley; CEO of PMM Agency, Kimberly Blackwell; and VP Wealth Management Advisor of Fifth Third Bank, Joel Stone.

President & CEO of Black Enterprise, Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., will deliver a keynote address to attendees on being aggressive in their professional leadership, maintaining competitive advantages in the marketplace, succeeding with resiliency, and creating legacies within minority communities through guidance, mentorship, and access to opportunities. Black Enterprise has partnered with the CIAA to use the symposium as a platform to bring continued awareness of the upcoming 2018 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit that will be held in Charlotte, NC, on June 6 to 9.

“I am delighted to serve as the opening keynote speaker at the 2018 NEXT Level: CIAA Minority Business and Leadership Symposium,” said Graves. “Black Enterprise chose to partner with the CIAA and NEXT Level because of their tireless commitment to business development – a mission that Black Enterprise is very proud of being a part of, as well.”

Other event partners include the Charlotte Chapter of National Black MBA Association, Carolinas Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, and

“Fifth Third Bank works every day to positively impact our communities,” said Jada Grandy-Mock, Senior Vice President, Regional Community Reinvestment Strategies Director. “It is essential to partner with organizations such as the CIAA who share our commitment to empower businesses and improve lives financially.”

To be among the first to hear tournament announcements including more celebrity appearances and tickets for ancillary events, download the CIAA Basketball Tournament mobile app via iTunes and Google Play or visit Information about purchasing general tickets, courtside tickets and suites can be found at