MED Week was established in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan “to recognize the outstanding achievements of minority businesses and to honor those corporations and financial institutions that support minority business development.” MED Week of WNC, which began in 1983, is coordinated by a volunteer board and mirrors similar programs around the country.
“Minority Enterprise Development Week provides a platform for education, advocacy and promotion of minority-owned businesses in Western North Carolina,” says MED Week Board Chair James Lee. “It is important because it provides support and recognition to minority business owners that may not otherwise be recognized for their success.”
The awards celebration was the the culmination of a week of events which included free classes offered in Asheville and Cherokee such as “SBA Programs and Services for Your Small Business,” “Pricing and Budgeting,” “Starting a [Better] Business” and “How to Get Money to Expand Your Business.”
The first award of the night was the Advocate Award, which was presented to Elder Johnny Hayes of the Empowerment Resource Center for his work with WRES 100.7 and the NAACP. Describing the barriers he overcame to launch the radio station, Hayes assured the crowd, “These beautiful mountains are a setting for opportunities.”
For the business awards, videos were shown highlighting the accomplishments of each of the four winners: Minority Retail Business of the Year, Corey Coggins, Studio Boutique; Minority Service Business of the Year, Daniel Tramper, Deer Clan Productions; Minority Restaurateur of the Year, Raynetta Waters, F & R Waters Enterprise; and Phyllis J. Sherrill Minority Entrepreneur of the Year, Justina Muniz of Soundview Family Care Homes.
Minority Entrepreneur of the Year Muniz’s business has 16 locations — 10 in Flat Rock, two in Asheville and four in Black Mountain. Her family-care homes offer an alternative to assisted living facilities, providing comfort and community to people of all ages who cannot live on their own. Muniz currently employs 22 people. For Muniz, “Every day is an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”
According to MED Week organizers, the recognition represents “the only awards which specifically recognize outstanding ethnic minority owned businesses in WNC.” Board member Kimberly Hunter was an award winner in 2008. “It changes your life if you’ve won this award, she said. “This is a place where the overlooked get seen.”
Ami Worthen is an Asheville-based writer and musician.
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