The Truth Staff
On Wednesday, October 11, over three dozen owners and representatives of Toledo-area Black-owned businesses gathered at The Entrepreneurs Club in east Toledo for an evening of sharing information and experiences. The Black Wall Street Summit – the second such event – was organized by Toni Gaines and local Black-owned media – Debra and Rick Hogan of The Juice radio station, Stayce Fowler of Stalwart Magazine, Fletcher Word of The Truth newspaper and Virgilio Baker of Millenium Media.
As Gaines explained at the opening of the night’s event, the purpose of the meeting was to make such small businesses aware of the many opportunities they have to market their operations and let the public know what is available within such a wide array of Black-owned enterprises.
The first summit was held in August at Studio 32Nine on Monroe Street, a salon owned by Doug Keetion. The intent of the local media going forward is to hold the summits at different establishments in order to introduce business owners to each other’s operations.
Vince Evans opened The Entrepreneur’s Club earlier this year as a rental hall which includes a full kitchen, television screens, speakers and a full wet bar. The other rooms in the club offer an Outreach Program for adults and a Youth Empowerment program including a boxing gym for youngsters.
Wednesday’s guest speaker was Kathryn Tucker, PNC Bank senior vice president, regional branch manager. Tucker spoke to the business owners about the state of Black-owned businesses in the nation and how to work with financial institutions in order to create the best chance for survival and success.
“My mission is to create equity and a new experience,” Tucker said as she described her topic for the evening – “what to do and expect from your financial institution.”
Tucker spoke of the wealth disparities in America between Black families and the majority community and why increasing homeownership and business ownership are so critical to improving those disparities.
Banks, noted Tucker, are legally obligated to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and having programs “specifically for minorities.”
Black businesses are on the rise, she assured her audience. “There are 3.12 Black-owned businesses in the United States, with $206 million in revenues and creating 3.5 million jobs.”
However, it is harder for Black businesses to stay afloat – “57 percent of Black businesses express concerns about access to capital,” she related.
Tucker advised the owners in attendance to find a financial institution; to go into the financial institution and tell them what you need from them; to search the institution for start-up, minority business programs and to draw up a business plan for the operation.
The discussion afterwards among the participants was focused on gathering more information on access to capital, improving credit scores and promoting businesses. More such gatherings are planned for the upcoming months and any and all Black-owned business owners are welcome to attend. For more information, contact one of the following: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.