The Black Wall Street Community Development Gathering

Stayce Fowler

The Truth Staff

Dozens of Black business owners came together on Wednesday, February 28, at the Entrepreneurs Club in east Toledo to network and brainstorm about the ways in which collective actions can benefit both Black-owned businesses and the Black community in general.

It started as a networking event organized by the Toledo Black-owned media in August of last year. WJUC 107.3 The Juice, The Sojourner’s Truth Newspaper and Stalwart Magazine hosted an event providing marketing and advertising support to about 15 Black entrepreneurs.

The now bi-monthly event grew in October to about 36 participants and on Dec 13, with the Creative Summit at the Entrepreneurs Club, it blossomed to over 60. The aim is to create a strong and supportive Black business community in NW Ohio.

The Black Wall Street Community Development’s mission statement “is to empower a community of business owners through activities such as mentorship, networking, leadership coaching and financial literacy initiatives for advocacy, support and collaboration for each other that leads to equitable and generational wealth,” shared Stayce Fowler, owner of Stalwart Magazine.

The prototype for the project is ‘Black Wall Street’ the burgeoning Black business community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was infamously and tragically destroyed by white mobs over 100 years ago in 1921.

After about 45 minutes of mixing and networking, last week’s event was opened by Toni Battle-Gaines, the lead organizer of the collaborative. Battle -Gaines emphasized that the group is not merely an opportunity to mingle. The next steps are to develop funding sources and resources from a wide range of government and non-government entities.

Vince Evans and Shanice Sample

BWSCD attracts like-minded businesses owners, nonprofit leaders, and supporters at every stage of the business. There is no invitation or charge – just an opportunity to grow together and support and grow our community of businesses.

This event was held at the Entrepreneurs Club (222 Fassett St.) owned by Black entrepreneur Vince Evans. Organizers of BWSCD are Battle-Gaines, sales manager at WJUC 107.3 The Juice; Rick Hogan and Debra Hogan, owners of WJUC 107.3 The Juice (Fleming Street Communications); Fletcher Word, owner and publisher of The Sojourner’s Truth Newspaper; and Stayce Fowler, owner and publisher of Stalwart Magazine. The leaders wore newly designed custom-made apparel by black owned designer Kristi Knighten, owner and designer of KK Apparel.

The inaugural kickoff event in August served as marketing and advertising support by the Black media. The next featured a Black banker providing information and financial advice and resources. The event last week hosted information from local businesses, networking, and an opportunity to celebrate our people on the journey.

Designers, bakers, architects, nonprofit leaders, bankers, restauranters, realtors , brokers, childcare centers, boutique owners, bloggers and podcasters all convened in an elevated evening with a similar mission: sharing information, ideas and contacts while celebrating each other’s accomplishments– from grand openings to features and specials.

Vince Evans, owner of the Entrepreneurs Club and multiple nonprofits and businesses, remarked “I work with a lot of entrepreneurs to help them grow and be more successful because as my journey went I ran through a lot of problems…if we would work with each other and helped out each other it would make our journey a lot less troublesome.”

He stressed the importance of doing better for our race by unifying and supporting each other and circulating our money within our community. “Let’s work together as a race… every other race [works] together to help each other prosper, as a race we do more tearing down each other than we do helping each other grow… that’s the way to break everything that we have a problem with… because we won’t work with each other.”

“The biggest thing is sticking together. With unity and with numbers we can do a lot more than being divided. United we can do a lot.” Evans recited a poem he wrote entitled about his journey as an entrepreneur.

In addition, on March 9, Evans and The Entrepreneurs Club will host a gathering for Black business owners to introduce them to a new concept at the club involving Black business owners and informative, instructional opportunities in a private club.

The next event will be held in May with more details to come. To learn more about BWSCD visit Facebook @ Black Wall Street Community Development.