February is the annual celebration of Black History Month. We at Positively Osceola asked African-American leaders in our community questions about how that heritage impacted their upbringing and choices of educational and professional paths. We’ll be publishing those responses during the month.
Antranette Forbes is the Economic Development & Special Projects Manager for the City of St. Cloud. Her responsibilities include the development and implementation of programs that promote economic vitality and strong financial stability in the city.
Antranette has more than 18 years of economic development experience. Her wealth of leadership experience ranges from capital improvement projects and business development to alternative finance. In her most recent previous role with the Lee County Economic Development Office, she was responsible for the compliance management of the $25M incentive portfolio and served as the fiscal officer for the Industrial Development Authority and Horizon Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization established to invest long term economic growth into the community.
Her career highlights include spearheading the annual SWFL Women’s Business Summit, creating the Greater Miami Gardens Chamber of Commerce and co-authoring a $1.43M federal grant for workforce training from the United States Department of Labor. In 2019, she was named one of the 100 Successful Women in Business award by the Global Trade Chamber.
She has a Master’s in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University and is a graduate of the Development Finance Professional program from the Council of Development Finance Agencies.
Is there an African-American man or woman that inspired you to become the person you are today?
There have been several African Americans of inspiration. I’ve had quite a few supervisors of color that have brought great points of mental notation. In fact, they don’t know it but they’ve been my “silent mentors”. I say “silent mentor” because I would watch quietly their focus, preparation, vocabulary, perspective and find hidden gems about them.
For example, one is a supervisor I met when I had recently graduated from college and began working for a local municipality. She was a director, had her master’s degree, spoke fluent Spanish and was a certified CPA. I was so impressed because she seemed so young. After a month of working for her, I enrolled in graduate school and began introductory Spanish language classes at the community school. Another supervisor was eloquent, intelligent and added value when expressing her point. I learned when entering a room, add value.
What do you think of when you hear Black History Month?
When I was younger, I thought of Black History Month as an educational lesson—taught once a year by my teachers as part of the assigned curriculum.
While I respected the information and found genuine interest, it did not qualify as part of my daily routine. In my early 20s, I went to my annual family reunion in Dawson, Georgia. In between the cookouts and fellowship, we took a tour of the plantation my grandmother (who is still alive and kicking!) worked as an indentured servant. We drove past the schoolhouse she rarely had the opportunity to attend as she had to work for room and board. We walked the peanut field where she met my grandfather. She spoke of her past life. I referenced back to her present. She received her GED in her fifties; had six children, with higher education degrees; and owned several businesses. It was then, I understood Black History. When I hear Black History Month, I think of legacy—rich in tradition and innovation, bathed in culture and excellence, cloaked in struggle and success. It is the opportunity to showcase our “magic”, to allow people an entryway into what I’ve always known… we are amazing!
If you could go back and talk to your teenage self, what would you say?
Pay attention in Spanish class! Lol!
What would you say or do to inspire other African Americans or those of other ethnic backgrounds?
What I would say to anyone is the world is bigger than you and me. I am always intrigued by people with layers. People that have stories to tell. Characteristic traits that go beyond the façade. That’s where you find the heart of a person—and connectivity.