Lifetime work and passion are rewarded
The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency recently announced it would honor Andrea Harris, board member of the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission, with the Abe Venable Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Harris has served with the N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development for 25 years, and currently resides as president.
The Abe Venable Award for Lifetime Achievement is a national award, given to an individual who has played an integral role in the creative, technical or professional progress of the minority business community over the course of his or her life.
“It’s about business and helping people build relationships with businesses,” Harris said.
“I think some of the success we’ve had has largely been through the value we place on collaborating and relationship building.”
According to Harris, helping smaller firms gain access to valuable marketing opportunities with major corporations has been a focal point of her work, especially in Vance County.
“I would say that I’ve got to do more in my home community,” Harris said. “I am from Henderson, we’ve worked with some firms and we see that there has been some opportunity for firms to do subcontracting work.
“We have a good partnership with Duke University, and when it comes to Henderson I really hope we can take advantage of that partnership.
“I don’t care if they are firms that are helping to do the landscaping, security or lab work. People like contracting out now.”
Harris also hopes to help Henderson take advantage of business opportunities through Maria Parham Medical Center.
“Maria Parham hospital, I have hopes it opens up access for small business in Vance County,” Harris said. “I’m going to be promoting some access to small firms. I don’t care who they’re owned by.”
Promoting true equity in the advancement of small business is what Harris believes requires strategic collaboration. This vision has become her mantra.
“It’s about jobs and growing business,” Harris said. “How do you grow what you got?
“I think part of that is figuring out how do we help people identify other market opportunities, and create an environment where the business and the potential contractor or corporation sees where there’s value on both sides.”
Harris will formally be awarded the Abe Venable Award for Lifetime Achievement at a reception in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Dec. 6.
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