icaba_team_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Prominent business leaders, black professionals and entrepreneurs came together at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, Nov. 18 to witness the launch of ICABA, a new multimedia venture that seeks to identify, connect, and activate accomplished black people around the world.

During the invitation-only launch reception that drew about 150 people to the hotel on Tuesday, the company unveiled an integrated marketing platform that includes a multifaceted website. The site, www.icabaonline.com, has a social networking component, print directories and information about signature events.

ICABA stands for Identifying, Connecting and Activating the Black Accomplished.

“There was a need for an integrated platform that would connect and activate business relationships among accomplished blacks,” said Jerome Hutchinson Jr., chief executive officer of ICABA Media Holdings, LLC.  “ICABA was created to enable accomplished black professionals and entrepreneurs to develop partnerships, pursue business opportunities and obtain information that supports their goals and aspirations.” 

The website features pictorial directories, video profiles, a lifestyle TV channel, blogs and video conferencing. 

A print publication, to be published quarterly, will profile accomplished individuals and organizations, and serve as a directory for black professionals and entrepreneurs.
The first print publication is scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2009.      

Signature events, including art shows, recognition receptions and group travel excursions will take place in local markets to strengthen the alliances of those in the network.

The inspiration for ICABA came to Hutchinson last year. He is the husband of the late Pamela Hutchinson, associate publisher of last year’s inaugural edition of Who's Who in Black South Florida, a directory that sought to promote the positive accomplishments of black people in the region, and give them an opportunity to network with one another.

Pamela Hutchinson died in November 2007 at 45, following brain surgery.

Jerome Hutchinson said he has received inspiration from the directory his wife started, but he said he felt something was missing from the original project. He told the crowd on Tuesday that he and his wife came up with the idea for ICABA before she died.

“I realized that there was a greater need to not just profile accomplished blacks, but to connect and activate productive relationships within the black community,’’ Jerome Hutchinson said in an earlier interview with the South Florida Times.

“ICABA offers a mix of online and offline networking opportunities to encourage a greater sense of interconnectivity and increase business opportunities for those within the black community,” Hutchinson said.  “It also provides a marketing vehicle to companies desiring an interactive relationship with affluent black consumers.”

With plans in place to grow the ICABA brand in 2009, local events, directories and web content are slated to be launched in Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Louisville, Washington, DC and internationally, in Jamaica.   

James Tarlton, president and CEO of The Broward Alliance, the county’s official public/private partnership for economic development; Peggy Nordeen, president of Starmark International, a marketing firm; and John Ruffin, president and CEO of Ruffin Associates, a government and business consulting firm; were among the business professionals at the ICABA launch reception.

“As an economic development organization, it is all about relationships,’’ Tarlton said in a prepared statement. “Building those relationships through ICABA, we will continue to grow and promote the entrepreneurial spirit in Broward County. ICABA is a great platform to do that.’’

Germaine Smith-Baugh, president and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County, who was also among the attendees at the launch event, said her organization is partnering with ICABA to provide mentorship opportunities for young professionals.

Members of the Urban League’s Young Professionals Network will receive mentoring from accomplished ICABA members. In return, the young professionals will mentor up-and-coming college students, and they in turn will mentor high school students.

Smith-Baugh said she will serve on an ICABA advisory board with Hutchinson, and plans to expand the concept to other markets where there are viable Urban League chapters.

She added that the project will help erase the invisible lines between Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties that can hinder networking among black professionals.

“It dovetailed very well with what he and Pam started with Who’s Who in Black South Florida,’’ Smith-Baugh said.

Photo Courtesy of ICABA. Jerome Hutchinson Jr.,  ICABA’s president and CEO, seated at center, poses with members of his team at the company’s launch on Nov. 18 at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. Standing behind Hutchinson, from left to right, are Charles Smart, ICABA’s chief technology officer; Cornelius Green, the company’s vice president of information systems; and Jonathan Edwards, vice president of multimedia services. Seated on both sides of Hutchinson are Dhaima Smart, ICABA’s South Florida market manager, left; and Dianne Williams, the company’s marketing consultant, right.