Star Parker, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), was the featured speaker Feb. 9 at the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise.

National black business leader Star Parker urged University of Louisville students to support free markets, free enterprise and entrepreneurship as a way to fight poverty and create jobs during a talk at the College of Business.

Parker, a nationally syndicated columnist who is the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), was the featured speaker Feb. 9 at the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise. Her talk, “USA Should Embrace, Not Over-Regulate, Entrepreneurs,” opened the center’s spring series on entrepreneurship. CURE is a nonprofit that promotes an agenda of traditional values, limited government and free markets to help low-income Americans transition from government dependency to economic independence.

“You should be pretty thankful that you have a center at your campus to actually focus on these ideas,” Parker told the audience at the PNC Horn Auditorium in the college’s Harry Frazier Hall.

The former welfare recipient said she started her own business as a way to refocus her life. She soon found herself immersed in what she called an “alphabet soup” of regulations and government agencies when all she was trying to do was “buy a widget, sell a widget, and perhaps make a little money.”

Stephan F. Gohmann, director of the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise, chats with students prior to Star Parker’s talk that opened the spring speakers series on entrepreneurship.

Small businesses, she said, are drowning in a sea of regulations.

“Prosperity is fueled by entrepreneurs … unfettered by these meddling politicians,” Parker said.

Entrepreneurs take considerable risk to start their businesses, she said, pointing to Apple Inc. as one example, and should not be penalized for earning money. “What entrepreneur would take the risk if politicians get to decide they are too wealthy?” she asked.

Parker, noting that February is Black History Month, said the free enterprise system has been good for African American advancement, citing Uber as an example. Black drivers at Uber total 24 percent of the workforce, she said, and the company is in more than 400 cities worldwide, but regulations sought by competitors are increasingly threatening its business. These existing businesses have only three options, she said: adapt and change; go out of business; or try to destroy the innovation that is challenging their existence.

During a question-and-answer session, Parker said the way for entrepreneurs to stay relevant while bigger businesses are closing is to keep creating new ideas. Innovation is the key, she added, citing the example of newspapers becoming more local when they became threatened by the internet.

“You want to keep moving forward,” she said.

Afterward, she signed books and chatted with students and faculty. She is the author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It,” “Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats: From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger” and “White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay.” 

The next speaker in the spring series is Bob Luddy, founder-president of commercial kitchen ventilation manufacturer CaptiveAire Systems, who will talk on, “The Entrepreneur: Servant of the User,” on March 9.

 The third and final event for spring is a March 30 panel discussion, “Investors & Entrepreneurs: Different Perspectives.” The discussion will feature Christina Bechhold, co-founder and managing director of Empire Angels, an angel investment group, and Jennifer Williams, founder and CEO of stuffed pet replica maker Cuddle Clones and a graduate of UofL’s MBA program for entrepreneurs. The moderator will be UofL’s Suzanne Bergmeister, Entrepreneur in Residence and assistant director of the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business.

All events are free and will be held at 4:30 p.m. in PNC Horn Auditorium in the college’s Harry Frazier Hall.