Robert L. Johnson To Be Honored For Lifetime Achievement At Entrepreneurs Conference In Columbus, OH, May 15-18

RLJ Companies Chairman/BET Founder to Be Presented With A.G. Gaston Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement at 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo

May 02, 2013, 18:00 ET from Black Enterprise

NEW YORK, May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BLACK ENTERPRISE will hold its 2013 Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide Insurance on Wednesday, May 15 through Saturday, May 18 at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. An annual highlight of the conference is the presentation of the nation's top award for African American business achievement, the Arthur G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, the A.G. Gaston Award will be presented to RLJ Companies Chairman, BET Founder and America's first black billionaire Robert L. Johnson at the BE 100s Dinner and Awards Gala, to be hosted by The Ohio State University and Limited Brands on Friday, May 17, at the convention center.

Master wealth builder Robert L. Johnson, founder of The RLJ Companies, made business history when he took BET public in 1991, making it the first black-owned company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, 11 years after he founded the cable network in 1980. This would be far from the last of the "firsts" Johnson would achieve on his way to being named No. 2 on Black Enterprise's list of "Titans: The 40 Most Powerful African Americans in Business" in the 40th anniversary issue of the magazine. In 2000, after taking BET private again, he sold the cable network to Viacom for $3.2 billion to become the first African American billionaire. He acquired the Charlotte Bobcats in 2003, creating the first black-owned NBA franchise. Johnson sold the Bobcats to NBA legend Michael Jordan in 2010, but continues to hold a minority stake in the team. Johnson has also launched a plethora of other ventures under the RLJ banner, including RLJ Equity Partners, ranked No. 11 on the Black Enterprise 100s list of the nation's largest black-owned private equity firms.

The A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Arthur G. Gaston, the legendary entrepreneur and one of America's first black millionaires, who went from being born into poverty in 1892 in the Deep South, to building a business empire spanning communications, real estate and insurance during the height of Jim Crow segregation in Birmingham, Ala. Gaston, who passed away at age 103 in 1996, was named Entrepreneur of the Century by Black Enterprise in 1992.

"A. G. Gaston served as role model and mentor for a generation of black entrepreneurs, including my father, Black Enterprise Founder and Chairman Earl Graves Sr., and is inspiration to countless generations more," said Earl "Butch" Graves Jr., Black Enterprise President and CEO. "We are proud to count the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference as part of his vast legacy, and I can think of no one more worthy of that legacy in the 21st century than Bob Johnson."

"We are proud to join Black Enterprise to help promote the growth and stability of emerging and established minority businesses across the country", said Nationwide Chief Marketing Officer Matt Jauchius.  "Bob Johnson's achievements and legacy serve as an inspiration to all entrepreneurs and we want to congratulate him for this well-deserved honor."

The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo (BEEC), which annually brings together more than 1,200 of the country's leading entrepreneurs and corporate executives, is designed to provide attendees with the newest and most innovative strategies from today's top business minds and provide high-powered networking opportunities critical to their efforts to take their businesses to the next level, from successful launch to growth and profitability. This year's BEEC theme: Accelerate Your Business.

Other confirmed speakers also include:

  • Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Founder & CEO, Magic Johnson Enterprises
  • Robert Townsend, Actor, Director & Filmmaker
  • Dr. Dennis Kimbro, Educator & Author of The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires
  • Frans Johansson, Founder & CEO, The Medici Group and bestselling author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment.
  • Tim Reese, Co-Founder, National Minority Angel Network and Managing Partner, Forge Intellectual Capital
  • Jeff Clanagan, CEO, Code Black Entertainment 
  • Melinda "Small Biz Lady" Emerson, CEO,
  • Amos Winbush, Founder & CEO, CyberSynchs LLC
  • Scott Gerber, Founder, Young Entrepreneurs Council and Co-Founder, Gen Y Capital Partners
  • Hajj Flemings, Founder & CEO, Brand Camp University
  • Lauren Maillian Bias, Founding Partner, Gen Y Capital Partners and CEO, Luxury Marketing Branding
  • Wayne Sutton, Founder & CEO, PitchTo Inc.

The 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference hosted by Nationwide Insurance boasts high-powered sessions on critical business topics such as International Business, Finding Angel Investors, Social Media Marketing, The Art of Creative Partnerships, Corporate Procurement, Business Coaching, Protecting Your Idea/Invention, Franchising, Selling Online, Generating Cash for your Tech Start-up, Using Search Engine Optimization to Sell Your Goods and How to do Business with the Government.

For the aspiring entrepreneur, The Small Business Success™ Bootcamp offers a step-by-step approach to kick-starting a new enterprise. Plus, the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition will award $10,000 for the best new business idea and the Teenpreneur program will teach business fundamentals to youths, ages 13-17.

For updates, follow BLACK ENTERPRISE Entrepreneurs Conference page on Facebook and search the #BEEC hash tag on Twitter

The 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide is presented by American Express, DELL, PepsiCo and Walmart. Platinum sponsors include FedEx Express and Wendy's International. Corporate Sponsors include The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PR Newswire. is the leading website for Money, Small Business and Career development. Providing executive and entrepreneurial resources, information, and profiles on the topics of money management, employment, career and start-up development, features expert resource articles, original video packages, and blogs, customized to empower its niche audience while consistently providing universal resource-value.

BLACK ENTERPRISE, your ultimate source to build Wealth for Life, is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. Every month, BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine provides 4 million readers with information on entrepreneurship, careers, and financial management. A multimedia company, BE also produces television programming, business and lifestyle events, Web content, and digital media. Visit for more information.

About Nationwide
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's. The company provides customers a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, pet, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and specialty health services. For more information, visit

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SOURCE Black Enterprise