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Wall Street executive shares best ways to create assets and wealth

Carla Harris was the first black woman on the management committee at Morgan Stanley.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Carla Harris is a recording gospel artist. But her path to stardom wasn't on the stage but a popular street. Wall Street.

Harris was the first black woman on the management committee at Morgan Stanley.

Thursday night, she shared some of the best ways to create assets and wealth at the annual gala sponsored by the African-American Leadership Forum.

The mission of the non-profit organization focuses on improving the economic health of communities through public and private partnerships that creates opportunities for underserved communities where business opportunities have been denied, unemployment is high, affordable housing is scare and chronic homelessness has reached unacceptable levels – all critical factors in creating healthy, sustainable communities in the Twin Cities.

"You can also make a lot of money by investing in the community. There are small businesses looking for scaling opportunities that will give above market returns," she said. "Think about the local barbershop that has a line around the corner every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Think about one of the best restaurants in your community but might actually flourish being in another part of the city ,but they be they need $15,000 - $25,000 to put an option on land to even be able to expand."

Harris says people can make money by investing in small businesses. She uses an analogy of Don, the entrepreneur. He has a location and is ready to expand.

"Don would love to expand. Don might be willing to give you six, eight-percent on your money," she said. "Right Now, you are getting less than one percent if you put your money in the bank. Query whether or not it makes in more sense to invest in that way, even in fixed income instrument, for example, a loan. It is probably better to do that than have it sitting in a bank."

Harris offers this and other advice in her book, "Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace."

The book, which highlights success from Wall Street, was updated in 2017 with a chapter on building effective business relationships.

In 2013, former President Obama appointed Harris as Chairperson of the National Women's Business Council.