Sam Brooks OAME

Community continues stronger than ever for OAME and its members


As I write this, COVID-19 has been a major part of our lives this year, 2020. Add to that the Social Justice Black Lives Movement causing social change activity to become central to our focus, the rampant wildfires not only in Oregon but along the entire West Coast, and many other activities that have added to the economic pressures that businesses of all sizes have felt, and it makes our work at the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) all that much more important. 

Our mission since our beginning in 1987 has been to promote and develop minority entrepreneurship and economic development in Oregon and Southwest Washington through partnerships between ethnic minorities, education, government, and established corporate businesses. 

This year, our 33rd Annual Trade Show and Luncheon, which was originally cancelled in May, will now be our 33rd Annual Conference. The event will be virtual, held online via a Zoom conference call on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to noon. While using an online platform has added another challenge to our operations, it also gives us some new tools to help our small businesses. An online presence has allowed us to work differently and continue to provide our services. 

Our theme for the virtual conference, Diversity is Practiced, focuses on our motto, “Everybody’s In, Nobody’s Out” and showcases OAME’s work with minority-owned, women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and emerging (MWESBSDV) small businesses and the support they need to be successful. While it is exactly in these times that so many small businesses have gone, or will be going, out of business OAME is still going strong, helping with technical assistance, marketing, networking, access to capital; serving as a business incubator; and engaging in many other activities in support of our members and all other emerging businesses. We hope you will take the time to join us and celebrate the positives we want to showcase during the conference. Our panel of speakers is an excellent mix of government, small business and emerging businesses that will share with everyone the challenges and successes that they have achieved with their diverse workforce.

While I have focused my message here on an important event for OAME, I would like mention that the awards we give out each year are to honor members and supporters that go above and beyond in their work with, and support of, OAME and our mission, our Board of Directors, and especially our members. This year is no different! 

“While using an online platform has added another challenge to our operations, it also gives us some new tools to help our small businesses. An online presence has allowed us to work differently and continue to provide our services.” 

– Sam Brooks,
Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs

The OAME Corporate Award is going to U.S. Bank, one of our founding members and a long-time supporter of my vision to help MWESBSDV businesses in our economy become successful. The Construction Company of the Year is Otak-DAY CPM for their work supporting and helping ensure MWESBSDV businesses have the opportunity to participate in larger projects throughout the area. 

The MWESBSDV Company of the Year is Zana Construction Company, which has been an OAME member and has used a variety of our services while growing to become a success. We always appreciate our public partners, and it is no different this year, with Multnomah County receiving the Public Service Award for their exemplary work to promote inclusion, equity and diversity in their construction, purchasing and operations. The County and its agencies serve as outstanding role models for other jurisdictions. And finally, the Chairman’s Award. I personally select this award each year in recognition of a member, partner or staffer who has assisted me as the Chairman of the Board and has worked with me to help accomplish OAME’s mission and goals in the community. This year was a tough year for all, OAME included. Therefore, I have chosen to award the Chairman’s Award to both Jorge Guerra, president of OAME, and Bill Prows, OAME’s director of business development, events and youth programs. Jorge has been with me for more than 30 years, running the day-to-day operations and helping me to make sure OAME stays on the right path. Bill has been involved in numerous ways since the beginning, when he was with one of our initial corporate sponsors. He also served on our Advisory Board for almost 25 years before coming to work at OAME in 2012. 

As I close, I want to recognize and thank our partner in Opportunity magazine, Pamplin Media Group. It is a great opportunity to work with everyone at Pamplin, especially Editor Stephanie Basalyga and Public Notice/Legals Manager Marc Caplan, to help highlight, promote and support MWESBSDV business development and growth in the area. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at 10 a.m. on Oct. 8 during the Zoom call 33rd Annual Conference to support the work and successes of OAME. More information will be available at