As Blacks enter the new year, I suggest we collectively evolve a racial ethos that puts more emphasis on entrepreneurs and who they are, putting forth more celebrations that honor these mold-breakers.
A successful entrepreneur that inspired our judges as “an enterprising leader” is broadcast executive Armstrong Williams, who has quietly became owner of the country’s largest Black television station conglomerate.
For 30 years, The Business Exchange Network has sought out and honored entrepreneurs such as Williams, whose boldness drive them to do things differently and change our society our world in unexpected ways. By purchasing the stations KVMY (the Vegas MyNet affiliate) and WLYH (the CW affiliate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Williams brought his total television station holdings to seven. Given that only 12 out of over 2,000 stations in the country are Black-owned, Williams’ deal with Sinclair Broadcasting made him the most powerful Black broadcasting media mogul in the country.
To celebrate Blacks evolving in business activity, The Business Exchange Network annually seeks the coming together of Black business communities to create and build leading businesses. We also seek to set Blacks’ standards of excellence to heights that create jobs and contribute to the vibrancy in Black communities.
Entrepreneurs like Armstrong Williams aren’t the only ones who benefit when they start businesses. He follows the footsteps of job creators like his father. Although job creation is one of the most important contributions they make to society, it’s certainly not the only one. Entrepreneurs play important roles in their communities turning their energies to philanthropy and innovation.
Entrepreneurs not only create jobs for themselves but for other people in their communities. The cumulative effect of multiple small business startups creates a significant impact. Small firms create 63 percent of net new jobs.
A protégé of Urban One’s millionaire owner Cathy Hughes, Williams reached mogul status in 2013 when he secured the deal with Sinclair Broadcasting. This was a small part of a bigger deal in which Sinclair purchased 18 stations from Barrington Broadcasting to the tune of $370 million. Many criticized Williams’ deal, accused him and Sinclair Broadcasting of exploiting loopholes in terms of FCC prohibitions against television broadcast monopolies. Bottom line: these transactions made Williams the largest African-American owner of television stations in the U.S.
Stations currently owned by Howard Stirk Holdings:
WGWW (Anniston-Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
WEES (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
WEYI (Saginaw-Flint, Michigan)
KHSV (Las Vegas)
WXBU (Lebanon/Lancaster/York/Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)
WGWG (Charleston, South Carolina)
WWMB (Florence/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Williams’ media stations are under Howard Stirk Holdings. He plans to raise the number of television stations he owns to 10. Williams is a board member of Ben Carson’s Carson Scholars Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. He also served on the boards of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows, under former President George W. Bush, and is on the Independence Federal S&L Bank board of directors and Newsmax Advisory Board.
Based on real estate and other holdings, Williams’ current net worth is upwards of $80 million. He is the founder and CEO of the Graham Williams Group, an international marketing, advertising and media public relations firm. He also owns Armstrong Williams Productions LLC with Baltimore entrepreneur David Modell.
Howard Stirk Holdings Journalism Foundation, Inc. and South Carolina State University have created the Armstrong Williams Broadcast Scholarship Program via a commitment of $250,000 to the university’s communications and journalism program.
Entrepreneurs such as Williams improve their local economies. When they employ locals, they spend money in local businesses, such as clothing stores and restaurants. New companies spend money purchasing good and services locally.
It’s time we Blacks in business make it a point to connect, know and interact with the Black retailers in our area.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.