Sunday, May 13, 2001

New Economy

Seeking a boost for tech group

        The Black Data Processing Associates has 30-plus chapters nationwide, and the Cincinnati chapter is the second-largest.

        Think about that: It's bigger than Detroit, New York City, Atlanta. Bigger than San Francisco and Seattle.

        They should all be bigger than Cincinnati, the local chapter president, Wayne Hicks, said. That's why he's running for president of the national organization.

        The local chapter had six members when he became president in January 1999. It now has 220 members, plus 15 sponsors, with two more to be announced soon. It also helped start a collegiate chapter at Miami University, only the third in the nation.

        “I think part of what we've learned in Cincinnati is you have to stay focused on what your business is, and you have to not be shy about telling people about yourself,” he said. “By stepping out, we've attracted people to come out and look.”

        With high-tech companies cutting workers by the thousands, the BDPA should be adding members in droves. The monthly networking events in Cincinnati draw 40 or more members, plus several recruiters. Mr. Hicks wants monthly attendance to average 100, which would draw more recruiters and help people find good jobs.

        “Our vision for the national organization is we're not a civil rights organization, and we're not a social organization,” he said. “We're the premier IT organization for folks of color.”

        The election will be in August at the BDPA's national conference in St. Louis.

Investor group organizes

        A once-informal group of high-tech investors is organizing, with an aim to raise more money for more start-ups.

        Tony Shipley, the retired founder of Entek IRD in Mason, is the most visible of a group of a dozen investors who've adopted the name Queen City Angels, representing a pool of several million dollars.

        “We're in the process now of trying to expand the group,” he said. Any potential investor would want to know a few things — how much to invest and what the target investments are — so the group decided to formalize its existence.

        He said seven members of the group are both investors and mentors to start-ups, while the rest are simply investors.

        In particular, the group is looking to add investors who will also serve as mentors to start-ups. Contact Mr. Shipley at

Confidence in OTR

        Last week's column about how the Main Street community fares following the unrest in Over-the-Rhine drew an e-mail from one company that's moving ahead with plans to locate there. E-business consultant Upright Communications is moving to the Verdin complex.

        “The combination of high character and low costs in OTR can't be beat,” founder Dino Pelle wrote. Upright is also helping the Liberty Learning Center with computer training.

        E-mail John Byczkowski at or call (513) 768-8377. Find a list of local New Economy companies at


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