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October 22, 2015

Spark Conference links faith, community and business

Economic development conference focuses on bring different sectors together

Conferences Economic Development
Brazile and Williams Contributed Art/The Enterprise Center

Political strategist Donna Brazile and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams will be speaking at the Spark conference on Tuesday.

What can faith groups, community organizations and local businesses all learn from each other?

The Enterprise Center wants to kindle some conversations on this topic at its Spark Conference this Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

To goal is to “look at how working together across sectors beats working in individual silos” when it comes to economic development, said Iola Harper.

Harper is Executive Vice President of Business Programs at the Center, a Philadelphia organization focused on supporting minority businesses.

"Communities of faith are very strong drivers in the economy and are often ignored by other sectors,” said Harper. She hopes faith leaders, business leaders and nonprofit leaders can all come together “to look at how to improve the quality of life for people in ways you may not have looked at before."

Speakers include political strategist Donna Brazile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams, social entrepreneur Judy Wicks and musician Kenny Gamble, founder of the community investment organization Universal Companies.

"(Gamble)'s a great example of someone that comes to a community and leverages the assets of, in his case, a mosque, his faith, and builds from that a viable and sustainable area in South Philadelphia," said Harper.

The conference will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature panels like “Faith, Business, Arts and Academics" and "Funding Community Impact Efforts," where participants can learn about how to get grants, contracts and tax credits.

Tickets are $49 and can be purchased at