Business

Making homeownership a top priority

Members of two professional associations said they stand ready to work with HUD, Fannie Mae, banks and mortgage brokers, in partnership with ethnic media, to close the gap in home ownership rates. Members of two professional associations said they stand ready to work with HUD, Fannie Mae, banks and mortgage brokers, in partnership with ethnic media, to close the gap in home ownership rates. Cassandra Gooden, president of Multi-Cultural Network of Real Estate Professionals (MREP) and Marvin Smith, president of Cross Cultural Home Ownership Alliance (C.C.H.O.A.) said their organizations have taken on key leadership responsibilities in the creation of the Trusted Advisor Network being presented as a feature of the Public Policy Forums at Lucille’s Kitchen. MREP main goals include professional development for its members, Gooden said. Networking and workshops support individual real estate professionals’ abilities to be abreast of new products and resources in the market. C.C.H.O.A., said Smith, conducts homebuyers seminars and workshops to introduce and promote the idea of home ownership among people of color. C.C.H.O.A. also wants to demonstrate, by the example of its members, the attractiveness of the real estate industry as a career or entrepreneurial path said Smith.

The notion of emerging markets gains significance not only because the exponential growth in purchasing power of African American, Asian, Latino, and American Indian populations, but also because more people have more money to do things with. More people are traveling further than just the trips back to Chicago or down south for family reunions, said Colleen LesSard, president of Destination Marketing Association, Minneapolis, who represented the Aruba Tourism Authority on a panel on travel and tourism.

LesSard said Caribbean destinations in particular, such as Aruba, are building into their marketing strategy a high priority of courting Emerging Markets. She encouraged people of color to visit Aruba specifically, and encouraged the publishers associations to strike relationships with private and government tourism interests. She said governments and hoteliers are anxious to grow business in communities of color.

The third aim of the conference, said McFarlane, is to provide recognition and appreciation for companies that "do it right" with respect to serving the consumer in general, with policy initiatives that make the business inviting and enjoyable for people of color. He said Nordstrom, in its practice of marketing to African Americans through African American newspapers, and in its employment and management development practices, and in its unparalleled insistence on treating each and every customer with respect and dignity, represents a "best practice model" that other firms should emulate.

Linda T. Finn, executive vice president of marketing, Nordstrom, described the hope, zeal and stick-to-it attitude of immigrant founder, John W. Nordstrom. His philosophy was to offer the best possible quality, value, selection and service. The company succeeded on all fronts. Though publicly held, the fourth generation now leads the company.

The company searches out new vendors whose products and services bring value to the market. One shining example, she said, is a jewelry maker whose sales to Nordstrom skyrocketed from the low thousands the first year, to a volume in excess of $8 million today.

Finn said successful vendor relations include the one with Midwest Black Publishers Coalition, Inc. with provide media buying services in Black media for Nordstrom.

Finn said 28.2 percent of Nordstrom managers are people of color, and, 39.4 percent of all Nordstrom employees are people of color. The company has 148 U.S. stores in 27 states, with over 44,000 employees. Nordstrom purchased almost $600 million from minority and women owned businesses last year. Almost $5 billion has been spent since the beginning of the supplier diversity program. One-third of the models in Nordstrom ads are people of color, Finn said.

December 2, 2003
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