ALR Student’s Corner: Department of Commerce: Minority Business Development Agency


The Commerce Department’s mission is to make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad. Responsible for everything from weather forecasts to patent protection, the following twelve departments of the Commerce Department impact the everyday lives of all Americans:

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) embodies the Commerce Department’s goal of maximizing job creation and global competitiveness by creating a new generation of minority-owned businesses that generate $100 million in annual revenues.  The MBDA provides services in five major areas globally through its business center:

Global Business Development: Focus is on the importance of minority-owned businesses as a key component of U.S. international trade. Minority-owned firms have the most favorable export attributes of any sector of the U.S. economy and represent the future of export growth.

Access to Capital and Financial Management: MBDA’s business advisors offer extensive experience in commercial lending and banking, financial, credit and risk analysis and general finance counseling.

Access to Contracts: MBDA business development specialists provide procurement assistance to help minority-owned firms do business with the federal, state, and local governments as well as private corporations. These specialists provide identification of procurement opportunities, solicitation analysis, bid and proposal preparation, research contract award histories, post-award contract administration, and certifications assistance.

Access to Markets: MBDA services in this area include government procurement assistance, private sector contract identification, and specialized certification assistance, including 8(a), MBE, and Small Disadvantaged Business. Assistance with market research, market plan development, and marketing communications is provided, as well.

Strategic Business Consulting: This service area includes strategic and business planning, staffing, organization and structure, policies and procedures, and general business consulting.

Most recently, MBDA featured a segment on how minority manufacturing businesses have strengthened the “Made in America” brand. This year, MBDA recognized a couple of businesses for outstanding manufacturing impact and achieving significant success in employing new and innovative techniques that led to a significant increase in market share, job growth, and customer satisfaction. “Manufacturing creates good jobs and has the largest multiplier effect of any part of the economy,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, MBDA National Director. “We are very proud of the tremendous achievements of minority businesses in the manufacturing industry that help grow the national economy through innovation, job and wealth creation.”

MBDA’s website is user friendly and provides an unlimited amount of information and resources, including a repository of publications for public research and review, dedicated to minority business developments.


~ Zona Julien, L’15 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Metrolina Library Association Tech Summit 2015


Librarians in the 21st Century are immersed in emerging technologies both in operating libraries and in helping patrons.  Each spring the Metrolina Library Association hosts a Tech Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. Usually the format includes four presenters on topics of interest to Charlotte area librarians.  The focus is on state-of-the-art technology developments that might find use in libraries. On Friday, March 13th Johnson and Wales University – Charlotte hosted this year’s Summit. A summary of the presentations follow:

Really Augmenting Your Library: AR Possibilities for Librarians

Presenter: Judy Walker, J. Murrey Atkins Library, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

Describing augmented reality (AR) as QR codes on steroids, Judy got our attention. Augmented reality is along the spectrum from real world to virtual reality. Using augmented reality, graphics, audio, video, or text can be superimposed on real world items in real time. Information can be embedded in a “target” and read/played using a mobile device. She used her office sign as the “target.” Using Aurasma Studio she created an overlay (a video of her giving instructions) and then created an aura. By aiming a mobile device at the target, her video popped up. There are a number of free apps. ColAR, Elements 4D and Fetch Lunch are some interesting examples. Augmented reality could be used for creating after-hours messages, facilitating scavenger hunts, training student workers, putting information in different places within the library, or even having students talk about their art in a gallery display of student artwork. Short videos of different projects using AR can be found at Judy’s guide:

Telling the Library’s Story through Social Media

Presenter: Katy Rust, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Katy leads a team of 20 people, the Library 3.0: Social Media Team. These people come from all parts of the library and represent as diverse a mix as possible. Each person has access to the library’s social media platforms which include Tumbler, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. They divide up a schedule so that someone is always monitoring the online discussions. Some of the advice she gave during her presentation included the following:

  • Be really good where you are and not try to be everywhere.
  • Be there and manage the conversation.
  • Treat your community like people, not numbers. (Think of it as an extension of a branch.)
  • What happens on the internet stays there forever. (Don’t be defensive or argue.)
  • Carry the conversation in less public manner.
  • Social media is no quick fix.
  • Listen, then talk.

Since the project went into operation in January 2014, the team has worked to keep the library’s brand consistent in all places, found and created content that tells the library’s story, and constantly analyzed everything to see what works towards the organization’s goals and change what’s not going well.


Gestural Interfaces

Presenter: Beth Martin, J. Murrey Atkins Library, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

Beth demonstrated Myo ($199), a bracelet like apparatus that reads gestures made by the electronic impulses in your arm. She was able to stand across the room and advance a PowerPoint presentation by moving her arm in a certain way.


The armband can also be used to control iTunes, Spotify, VLC Media Player and Netflix video players. For video gamers, Myo and Oculus Rift will be a natural combination.  As with most technology, the key is to play with the device to figure out its usefulness. Beth pointed to Kickstarter as a good place to look for new technology.

Mindful Librarianship

Presenter: Richard Moniz EdD, Johnson & Wales University – Charlotte Library

Many of us are overwhelmed with technology. Multitasking, we divide our attention on many different things at once. Technology often facilitates that behavior. After leading a short meditation session, Richard defined mindfulness as “the art of observing your physical, emotional, and mental experiences with deliberate, open and curious attention (Smalley & Winston).” The research findings show that mindfulness, whether meditation, yoga, tai-chi, or just self-reflection has demonstrable effect on the brain. Being in the moment also has a reference service application as it ties well with the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Standards requiring librarians to be present in the moment in interactions with others. Libraries are picking up on this trend by holding classes and workshops on the topic, setting up meditation rooms, and holding meditation sessions in student centers to help students reduce their stress and learn to be more mindful.


~Betty Thomas~

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — April 20, 2015


 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams

All of us want to invent that game-changing product, launch that successful company, write that best-selling book. And yet so few of us actually do it. Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce breaks down five easy-to-believe myths that ensure your dream projects will never come to fruition.

The Real Secret to Productivity

Google “productivity” and you’ll be dished up more than 200 million search results. Scroll around and you’ll find blogs, websites, apps, browser plug-ins, essays, subreddits, consulting firms, publishing houses, podcasts, and scientific studies devoted to productivity.  What’s the obsession? Our modern lives are inundated with more information than ever before, with pressure to do more, better, faster. There are productivity hacks (wake up early; develop a routine) abound to help us squeeze more high-quality work out of less high-quality time.  But here’s the thing: the secret to productivity is actually super simple. Ready for it?

The Cloud Has Landed: 10 Legal Tech Innovations and What They Mean

No matter your practice area or the number of attorneys in your organization, the 10 legal technology innovations outlined here affect you. No matter the size of your bank account, you can’t afford to ignore them.

Yes, Your Personality Matters to Clients

Finding clients, meeting with clients, and getting clients to retain your law firm is part of the daily grind for most attorneys.  Many attorneys resort to hard-sell techniques — emphasizing how awesome they are, recent successes, or industry awards — and neglect to actually connect with potential clients.

7 Classrooms: Library as a Pedagogical Incubator

In my library we talk a lot about partnerships as currency. The output of various relationships is one metric we use to measure impact. By converting underutilized space into learning environments we opened the doors for numerous new collaborations.

Why Libraries Still Matter: Insights from a Recent Study of Academic Libraries by Gensler

Just as I was contemplating topics for Library Week,  I had a chance to review a 2014 study which provided at least of one perspective on “Why Libraries Still Matter.”   The global architectural and design firm Gensler recently published a compilation of their Research Reports and one the reports asks “Why do students really go to the library?”

Doing National Library Week Right: TSCPL

Yesterday marked the start of National Library Week (#NLW15) in the US. Many libraries of all types do things to take advantage of this time, when ALA and other organizations have already primed the media to do library stories. Some, understandably, do more than others.  I’d like to show you a prime example of a public library that’s done #NLW15 right. Take a look at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL) in Topeka, Kansas.

Librarians Are Here to Stay

I get asked every now and then about the future of librarians.  I work in an academic environment.  I get questions from students, faculty members, the general public, other librarians, you name ‘em.  The type of questions I get are contrasted, to some extent, with statements that with everything on the Internet we will be obsolete.  I’m sure many librarians, not just law librarians hear that.  Those with that attitude tend to think that because they never use a librarian’s services that no one else would need that assistance either.

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Staff Spotlight: Congratulations to Whitney Thompson

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Congratulations to our very own Whitney Thompson for being among the four finalists for the Charlotte Chamber Young Professional Educator of the year award!

Whitney is the Assistant Director of Student Success here at the Charlotte School of Law.  She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Miami University in 2005, a Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University in 2008, and a Juris Doctor degree from the Charleston School of Law in 2011. Whitney currently serves as the Vice President of the Young Affiliates of the Mint Museum and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Promising Pages.

In her spare time she is a Volunteer Custody Attorney with the Council for Children’s Rights and a docent at the Mint Museum. Prior to attending law school, Whitney was a special education teacher in Brooklyn, NY specializing in autism through New York Teaching Fellows.

Video courtesy of the Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals


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Introducing Our New Core Operations Student Workers!

Meet Safari Little and Robin Washington, the library’s newest Core Operations student workers…

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Safari Little


Where are you from originally, and how long have you lived in Charlotte?

I am originally from Shelby, NC. I currently live in Belmont, NC where I have lived for a year.

What area of the law interests you, and why?

I am interested in being a defense attorney for juvenile delinquents. I just have a passion for youth and wanting to help the community.

Sum up your 1L year in 5 words or less.

Glad it’s over. Never again.

Best advice you received about law school?

For every hour you spend in class, spend two hours outside of class studying; however, do not let law school consume your life.

Favorite snack food for study sessions?

Sour skittles and ritz bitz crackers and cheese.


Robin Washington

Where are you from originally, and how long have you lived in Charlotte?

I am originally from Charleston, South Carolina and I have been living in Charlotte a little over a year and a half.

What area of the law interests you, and why?

I am mainly interested in Family Law. Because Family Law cases will be a very emotional and difficult time for individuals, I want to offer my assistance in the best way possible in order to help those going through a stressful experience.

Sum up your 1L year in 5 words or less.

Not what I had expected.

Best advice you received about law school?

The best advice I received about law school is to use the resources available to me that can help me to succeed and to not be afraid to reach out for help if I am struggling with a class.

Favorite snack food for study sessions?

Gummy worms, chips, and almonds.


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