In Tennessee Diversity Makes All the Difference

Black Enterprise, May 2003 | Go to article overview

In Tennessee Diversity Makes All the Difference


PORTER-WALKER

The owners of Porter-Walker, a 95 year-old Columbia, Tennessee company that distributes industrial tools and safety supplies such as hard hats, earplugs and eyewear, were fast approaching retirement four years ago. They wanted to sell their company to a buyer who would keep the company independently owned, retain its employees, and continue to operate in Columbia. They found that buyer in Doug Venable, an African-American businessman Who owned a similar company in Detroit.

DESPITE TOP-NOTH BUSINESS CREDENTIALS, PORTER-WALKER FACED AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE NOT SO LONG AGO. HOWEVER, TODAY, THROUGH A COMBINATION OF TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY (TVA) PROGRAMS, THAT FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT ONCE AGAIN. WITH THE HELP OF TVA'S MINORITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LOAN FUNDS, DOUG VENABLE WAS ABLE TO PURCHASE THIS TENNESSEE COMPANY. SINCE THEN, HE HAS EXPANDED HIS BUSINESSES AND MOVED HIS FAMILY TO TENNESSEE, WHERE HE IS ENJOYING THE STATE'S MANY LIFESTYLE AND ECONOMIC PERKS. HE JOINS 20,000 OTHER MINORITY-OWNED FIRMS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF TENNESSEE'S VAST ARRAY OF RESOURCES, LOW COST OF DOING BUSINESS AND UNBEATABLE LOCATION.

CUSHION EMPLOYER SERVICES

Bill Martin and his wife Pamela founded Cushion in Nashville. Their endeavor has grown and diversified in the past five years from a three-person human resources outsourcing enterprise to a full-service benefits and human resources management firm. Their first branch office has just opened in Jackson, Tennessee. Their newest division, headed by NFL star Marcus Robertson, capitalizes on the team-building expertise of professional athletes to deliver executive management training to clients both large and small.

TENNESSEE'S ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TEAM PROVIDED CUSHION'S LEADERSHIP WITH THE NETWORKING TOOLS AND CONTACTS TO BUILD AND EXPAND THEIR BUSINESS INTO A THRIVING NEW MARKET. "WE WANTED TO EXPAND, AND JACKSON WAS A STRATEGIC CHOICE. THE BUSINESS CLIMATE IS VERY FAVORABLE TO ENTREPRENEURS, AND THERE IS SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWING BUSINESSES THERE. TENNESSEE ECD SHOWED A REAL INTEREST IN OUR BUSINESS, AND PROVIDED THE CONNECTIONS THAT MADE IT EASY TO MAKE TO MOVE AND CREATE OUR NEW BRANCH OFFICE," SAYS PAMELA BROOKS MARTIN, CUSHIONS PRESIDENT. …

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