We recently teamed up with our partners at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) to host an LAX Business Inclusivity Event to bring current and prospective minority- and women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs together for an afternoon of networking, educational programming, and more.
Following the event, our own Chris Adkins, Director of URW Airports' Advance Network, sat down with Airport Business to talk about the importance of facilitating networking among small businesses, how to make events impactful for our audiences, and the importance of collaboration across the board. Read the entire article at Airport Business and keep reading below for an excerpt of our interview.
Determine Where You Can Increase DBE Participation
Adkins said URW has a mission to meaningfully grow diverse participation and representation at all levels of its business, across the industry and throughout our communities. Contractual requirements are table stakes. URW focus on how it can make the airport more accessible for local minority- and women-owned businesses, and how the company can support minority and women-owned partners in achieving success as they define it.
For some businesses, that means helping them achieve principal ownership of their businesses; for others, it’s about growing their airport portfolio.
“Partnering with LAWA and with our communities, we believe what’s happening at LAX can become a model for achieving meaningful diverse participation,” Adkins said.
Don’t Discount the Value of Traditional Networking
The value of in-person networking events like these is huge for not just URW’s partners, but for the company as well, Adkins said. URW leaders are working to raise awareness in the community so local businesses know the airport is not only open and accessible to them but is a great opportunity to grow their business.
“It’s also about getting our partners together to build new relationships, share challenges and learn from each other,” Adkins said. “What’s been amazing is to see our established minority business owners offering their leadership and mentorship to newer entrants. This is really a community, and we’re stronger together.
Determine the Right Stakeholders
It was critical for URW to include its partners at LAWA, AMAC, the company’s concessions and service provider partners and local entrepreneurs and businesses who are new to the industry, Adkins said. By bringing all these communities together, stakeholders can support and learn from each other and help achieve our collective goals.
Learn More About DBE Partners in Your Community
In-person events like this have incredible value for newer business prospects without the existing industry relationships, Adkins said. Hosting these events gives URW an opportunity to connect with new people, businesses and exciting new products and services that strengthen and diversify the company’s commercial offer.
“Some key takeaways from the event include the importance of networking and learning from those who are in the business,” he said “Panelists shared insights including how to build your personal brand and the value of partnering to help build your business portfolio.”
Understand the Need Before Having the Event
Adkins said URW started with listening to the needs of the company’s stakeholders. What challenges are URW’s partners facing? What support will be most helpful in any given moment? By keeping open communication channels with partners, the company can tailor programming and events to be relevant and compelling to its audience.
“Getting the right experts in the room—for this event, partnering with LAWA and the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC)—we were able to deliver the content and format our community would most benefit from,” he said.