Tampa Bay MED Week closes with successful CEO Breakfast

Cassius Butts, Dr. Cynthia Johnson and Troy Taylor


BY MICHELLE AURIANA SIMMONS, One Community New Image News Project

TAMPA — Pinellas County Economic Development hosted its sixth annual CEO Breakfast during the 2018 Florida Minority Enterprise Development Conference, a regional celebration of minority-owned business owners and advocates, which convened in Tampa Sept. 26-27.

The breakfast was hosted by Troy Taylor, chief executive officer at Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC. Coca-Cola Beverages Florida is the third largest privately held and fifth-largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. Taylor is also the founder and managing partner of Spinel Investment Company, LLC, a private investment firm that acquires, owns and operates businesses that are key suppliers and distributors for large corporations.

Coca-Cola Beverages Florida began operations less than three years ago when it acquired the Central Florida territory from The Coca-Cola Company, and the Tampa-based company continues to grow. The only African-American owned Coca-Cola bottler, the company is committed to its corporate responsibility of being a high-quality vendor in the region. According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2017, Taylor’s operation earned $1.2 billion in revenues.

Taylor’s message this year was “building relevant relationships.” He understands all too well the importance of diverse supply chain and how quality suppliers can help increase the bottom line. As host of this year’s event, he shared his desire to get to know key members of the business community better – a fact evident by his warm smile and genuine willingness to listen, learn and share with others in the room.

Dr. Cynthia Johnson, director of the Pinellas County affiliate of the Florida Small Business Development Center, envisioned this CEO Breakfast seven years ago specifically to create a venue where like-minded CEOs would have an opportunity to get to know each other and discuss growth strategies relevant to their corporate resiliency plan.

“I believe these opportunities allow our minority business leaders to share meaningful experiences with others they can T.AL.K. (Trust, Access, Like and Know) with. As we build a community culture of excellence, it is imperative that these CEOs get to know each other,” said Johnson. “Authentic relationships are a result or relevant engagement.

Last month’s event crossed industry lines from international trucking to digital print solutions and the talent represented in this meeting exceeded $2 billion in revenues and over 1,800 employees.

Many CEOs supported the event from its inception such as Oscar Horton, president and CEO of SunState International Trucking, Chameleon Custom Solutions Corporation President and CEO Carolyn Lawson and Johnathan Graham, president & CEO of Horus Construction Services, Inc. to name a few.

Cassius Butts led this year’s panel discussion. During the breakfast, he served as moderator on the event’s themes of corporate responsibility and the positive impacts of supplier diversity.

Butts is the founder and chairman of Capital Fortitude Business Advisors, a boutique management-consulting and diversity and inclusion training firm located in Atlanta with satellite offices in Orlando, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.  He is also the former regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011 to oversee the agency’s lending activities across eight states.

Held at the Coca-Cola Beverages Florida headquarters, more than 25 executives attended this invitation-only event and participants were treated to a personalized bottle of Coca-Cola, compliments of the event’s host.

“Everyone left with a Coke and a smile,” noted Dr. Johnson.

Attendees dined on a delicious buffet and participated in an up-close and personal discussion with event facilitators as well as other participants.

About MED Week

National and local MED Weeks are the country’s largest federally sponsored events by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the SBA. The mission is to connect minority-owned businesses to educational and growth opportunities.

This joint public-private sector event also highlights the significant contributions made by minority-owned businesses in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas and focuses on “empowering minority business leaders” to be key stakeholders in diversifying the economy and helping to continuously grow businesses in and around the state of Florida.

Each year, attendees take advantage of the opportunities for networking with various government procurement officers and industry representatives.

MED Week seeks to:

  • Promote economic development in the minority business community
  • Bring together minority business owners engaged in various industries to further enhance and create business opportunities through the interchange of experiences, ideas and interests
  • Provide educational and growth assistance to minority-owned businesses through workshops, seminars and access to opportunities

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