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The New York Black Expo ~ 2016

Updated on June 28, 2016
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I started working in the performing arts industry after attending Colgate University in 1981. My early work was as a personal manager.

This will be the third year for the New York Black Expo under Mark Anthony Jenkins.
This will be the third year for the New York Black Expo under Mark Anthony Jenkins.
Mark Anthony Jenkins is CEO for New York Black Expo's Annual Events.
Mark Anthony Jenkins is CEO for New York Black Expo's Annual Events.

The Purpose

New York Black Expo organizers and supporters are committed to making a positive change. The expo is offered annually in June which offers African Americans, Caribbean Americans and African businesses an opportunity to showcase their products/services, expand clientele, establish partnerships as well as receive comprehensive training to assist them in the strengthening and expansion of their brands.

All New York Black Expo endeavors are inspired by the African-American, Caribbean and African community, and the goal is to uplift and empower so that the entire community can live their dreams.

New York Black Expo is projected to grow at a rapid rate over the next 3 to 5 years. Each installment of our expos will be jam-packed with compelling business experts, published authors, motivational speakers, high-profile guests, and riveting entertainment the entire family can enjoy.

What initially originated as a means for promoting one business, we will transform into a quest to restore and revitalize the African Americans, Caribbean, and African community in New York City.

A celebrity lineup of leaders across a wide sector of the Power Base of the Black Community will be participating in this year’s business expo. Leaders in Local Chambers, Regional Chambers, Corporate Executives, Civic Leaders, Community Leaders and advocates supporting the “Buy Black Campaign” of the New York Black Expo.

The expo will also provide an opportunity for diverse segments of the community to do business with the Black Community.

A variety of business leaders will be facilitating seminars, workshops and panel discussions. Industry experts in the area of business, education, health, music, entertainment and fashion will be providing pertinent information for consumers, professionals, service providers, and small business owners in attendance at the expo.

Join us in our efforts to revitalize and stimulate the Buy Black Empowerment Movement supported and organized by the Black community. The New York Black Expo experience is coming your way for all African American, Caribbean and African people.

When Mark Anthony Jenkins took over the New York Black Expo three years ago, he was uniquely aware of the uphill battle he would face in regaining the respectability and "majesty" the Expo once posed in the 1990s as one of the premiere cultural and business exhibitions in the Northeast.

The Expo became so popular in New York City, it would eventually tour other cities. There would be Black Expo's in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and the Black Expo USA was born.

It was the ideal opportunity for small to large Black business owners to display their wares to a massive audience in exhibition halls, like the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City that offered over 840,000 square feet of exhibition space, an appetizing fetch for minority businesses to get involved.

An annual rite of Spring or Summer, Black Expo USA evolved into a social gathering of the season, often becoming the place to see and be seen. And, it is where this writer actually began his Public Relations career.

But, eventually, as other entrepreneurs held their own Black Expos over populating the market with events, and rising production costs mounted for Black Expo USA with debts totaling a half million dollars to over 72 creditors nationwide, Black Expo USA founder, Jerry Roebuck, was forced to file Chapter 7.

Black Expo USA was the first traveling trade show of its kind that sought to bring African American businesses face-to-face with their customers. It sprouted from humble beginnings, starting with 150 vendors and 20,000 attendees on a New York Pier in 1989.

At its peak, it grossed nearly $4 million, traveled to 16 cities across the country and attracted almost 500,000 attendees annually. But now, with competitors like Circle of Sisters Expo and Black Christmas Expo, some cities have as many as three competing Expos in a given season. According to Roebuck, this contributed to Black Expo’s falling revenues, which dropped by as much as 40% in recent years.

“Other people looked at our model and said, `I can do that too,”‘ says Roebuck. “Broadcasting companies with a string of radio stations began doing Expos in their markets. And even more shows began to pop up in cities that we didn’t go to, like Orlando and Milwaukee. It was simply no longer feasible for us to go all over the country, unless we wanted to lose money.”

He adds that the cost of doing business (like renting out convention venues) rose dramatically over the last several years. In 1991, he rented the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City for $66,000. By 1995, the fee had increased to $150,000. “But we obviously couldn’t raise our rental booth prices by the same degree to compensate,” says Roebuck.

According to Black Expo’s Bankruptcy Filings, the Expo’s annual revenue had dropped from $2.5 million in 1994 to $ 1.4 million for its last year in 1997.

Karl Kan's Infinity (ranked no. 25 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $59 million in sales) was one of Black Expo’s regular vendors. Kani says it’s unfortunate that the Expo didn’t survive because it was a crucial tool for businesses.

While Kani's company usually walked away from the Expo covering only basic expenses, it was invaluable for other reasons. I never looked at participating in the show by how much it would affect my bottom line. It was about increasing consumer awareness of what my company was doing,” says Kani. “At first, a lot of people were amazed to know that we were a black owned company and once they found out, it definitely added a boost to our business. It was more than worth it because of the exposure.”

Mark Anthony Jenkins was of course aware of the success, and the failure of Black Expo USA, having grown up in Bronx, New York, Jenkins was a budding entrepreneur in 1994 as a professional speaker after being mentored by renowned Motivational Speaker, Les Brown, he launched his company, Jenkins Communications.

The company featured and promoted motivational training seminars to uplift individuals, churches, schools and non- profit organizations.

Noted for delivering high-energy, thought-provoking presentations that encouraged others to abandon conformity and live up to their full potential. The messages were empowering as they were derived from his own life experiences that others may apply to their own lives.

For over 10 years there has been no platform for African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans, and African business owners to connect on a mass level and showcase their products and services to the public. In fact, the state of New York had not seen a Black Expo in over 10 years.

With $1000 left in the bank, local entrepreneur Mark Anthony Jenkins decided to take matters into his own hands, to start a business expo and create that platform for himself and others.

Organizing local events and hosting networking business mixers was not enough for entrepreneurs and business owners. Thus, New York Black Expo Inc was created and born on April 1, 2013.

The New York Black Expo is one of several Black Expos he has planned for other cities under the parent company he owns, Black Expo America, Incorporated.

"Our mission with the new Black Expo is to restore, revitalize and re-energize the African American, Caribbean and African community through the promotion of entrepreneurship coupled with personal growth and business development and educating African-Americans via entrepreneurial, business planning and financial literacy seminars and workshops.

We seek to encourage African American, Caribbean American and African business owners to follow their dreams, whatever they may be; and to inspire the belief that the capacity for success and greatness lies within oneself", Jenkins says, still displaying his motivational speaking skills he started with in the 90s.

This will be the 3rd Annual New York Black Expo under Jenkins and his staff's watch, that will be held at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, 811 7th Avenue at 53rd Street in Manhattan on July 30th from 10 AM until 9 PM.

A much smaller event venue to keep production costs down, the Sheraton is in the heart of New York's thriving tourist and business center, allowing for great patronage and commerce. Hundreds of entrepreneurs are expected to come from all around the Northeast and Tri-State area for this event.

Jenkins believes the future is very bright for The New York Black Expo, and it will emerge as New York's leading cultural exhibit events, unifying distinguished African American, Caribbean American and African entrepreneurs and business owners in the Northeast.





Q & A with Mark Anthony Jenkins

Q: Your website at newyorkblackexpo.com says that you wanted to start a business expo and create a platform for yourself and others in New York. Mark, do you remember that other former Black Expo back in the 90s, why do you think that one ended?

A: Well Robert, that was run by someone else so I wouldn’t be able to answer that, I don’t know. What I can say is that our brand New York Black Expo, Inc., is in the third year, we will have a long-term strategic plan and develop a model that is sustainable. A platform is needed where we can bring the small business owners, professionals service providers and consumers under one umbrella to build up the black economic base in NYC. This platform can also serve to introduce innovative products into the marketplace created by African Americans. New York Black Expo is also an excellent opportunity for a diverse variety of companies interested in doing business with our community to find thousands of our consumers under one roof. Finally, this year’s 3rd Annual New York Black Expo provides opportunities to meet and develop relationships with new artists, professional speakers, with a host of new ideas that our creative business innovators want to introduce to the marketplace.

Q: What has been one of your biggest challenges in taking on this huge production of bringing business owners, entertainers, commerce, politicians, together for the last three years?

A: The challenge with New York Black Expo is always to get so much done with so little resources, but this year we have added quite a few quality consultants to our team. We know the expo is something that is needed in our community and the organizers see the potential growth of New York Black Expo each and every year since its inception three years ago. We believe this year’s New York Black Expo will be a breakout year, garnering a greater number of corporate sponsors, vendors and consumer participation. Three years ago we have been blessed to have launched the New York Black Expo in one of the most dynamic markets in the country. We are asking corporate sponsors, vendors, and consumers to register early for this year’s event and demands for participation in this 3rd Annual New York Black Expo have increased since we launched two years ago and we want to accommodate everyone.

Q: What has been one of your greatest rewards in doing such an event?

A: I would have to say patience, personal growth and knowing that together we are making a difference in the lives of consumers, small business owners and corporations seeking a diverse platform which support the huge African American market and empowerment agenda in NYC.

Q: What do you think the future holds for New York Black Expo, Inc. in New York? And, what other cities are you planning on hosting Expo's in?

A: We will be disclosing that at a later date, so stay tuned in and request to be put on our email list for updated information at info@newyorkblackexpo.com. The future of an annual New York Black Expo is bright! We are laying the stake in the ground in New York City as we continue to grow with increasing consumer power of our community in this market, along with building a stronger business base. African American Business Women are the fastest growing segment of the small business market in America. We see and embrace the vision of New York having the largest New York Black Expo of its kind in the nation.

Q: What is it you want people who attend the 3rd Annual New York Black Expo to walk away with as an experience?

A: We want people who attend the 3rd Annual New York Black Expo to walk away with a quality experience this year. We will be providing workshops, seminars, and panel discussions which will be of benefit to all those in attendance. Consumers will also be able to shop for a variety products and service which will be on display at the expo. The expo will also be an excellent platform to network, as you never know who you will meet at such events as these, and how those connections will impact and change your life.

Q: What are some of your other business ventures you would like the readers to know about?

A: Again Robert, I will be disclosing that at a later time, we have so much to share about our 3rd Annual New York Black Expo, as you know this is a project of tremendous magnitude. We are really focused on this year’s expo and looking for a banner year. Our corporations, vendors and consumers expect and deserve an event that is geared to meeting their expectations.

Q: How do you feel these types of events empower our community?

A: One key to empowerment of our community begins when we come together in the same venue and we expand the conversation to include small business development, employment opportunities, and inspirational messages along with a sound plan to implement our economic agenda now and in the future.

Q: Who was your business influence coming up as a young man, or, who has inspired you the most going into business?

A: I have had much business influence, Star Journal News is a current influence and My PR Buddy is a boutique PR firm and they are having a major influence as a service provider at this year’s 3rd Annual New York Black Expo in providing a platform to get my message out to the community that this event is an opportunity you don’t want to miss is inspiring me at this very moment. My father has been and continues to be an influence in my life, and my ancestors continue to provide guidance in my life.

Q: Doing these types of events take year round planning and preparation work, right?

A: Yes, to produce something at this magnitude take a tremendous amount of fortitude and persistence. I know the community will benefit immensely and we are up to the challenge at this year’s 3rd Annual New York Black Expo.

Q: How do you find time for your personal life, then?

A: Each area of my life has its own special calendar and time is allocated accordingly.

Q: Are you a big New York sports fan?

A: I love sports, and sports is synonymous with what we are doing at the New York Black Expo, as we are building a championship team composed of event planning team, consumers, corporations, vendors, professional service providers, and small business owners just working to provide value to each and every stakeholder involved in the expo.

Q: Is it true, in your opinion, that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere?

A: In my assessment, New York has a lot going on, and you have to be able to rise above the crowd and challenges. We are doing extraordinary work in building a quality platform at the New York Black Expo and I believe that our new team bring strong work ethics, commitment and dedication in building New York Black Expo as a premier event in NYC is on course.

Q: If you were speaking to a group of young aspiring business students, what would be your words of inspiration for them?

A: Don’t give up. Dreams really come true!

Thank you for your time Mark Anthony and continued success with the New York Black Expo Inc. and your other ventures.

The New York Black Expo ~ 2016 will take place at the Sheraton's Times Square Hotel, 811 7th Avenue at W. 53rd Street from 10 AM to 9 PM.
The New York Black Expo ~ 2016 will take place at the Sheraton's Times Square Hotel, 811 7th Avenue at W. 53rd Street from 10 AM to 9 PM.

Join us in our efforts to revitalize and stimulate the Buy Black Empowerment Movement supported and organized by the Black community. The New York Black Expo experience is coming your way for all African American, Caribbean and African people.

We look forward to the opportunity to build a legacy with longevity and outstanding support.

— Mark Anthony Jenkins

Mark Anthony Jenkins on The New York Black Expo event in 2014

New York Black Expo is becoming known for it's Fashion Shows and Featuring great Designers

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