Michael Wright

Recent Articles

Building the ‘Buy Black’ movement in Minnesota

Local entrepreneurs discuss challenges, offer solutions
 
News Analysis

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The idea for the recent MSR multi-part Black business series first came last year during a conversation with Twin Cities Black Film Festival Founder-Director Natalie Morrow. She decried the seemingly low support from Blacks for such annual events as hers. MSR Editor-in-Chief Vickie Evans Nash later agreed with Morrow’s assertion and assigned me to investigate and report on how true or not true it is. Over the course of several months, after causal and on-record conversations with several local Black business owners, we produced the series beginning in late September. Rather than ask about how financially successful these business persons are, the MSR instead inquired why they chose to start their own businesses, any unforeseen obstacles they may have faced and overcome, new challenges they currently face, and what advice and tips they might offer to anyone who might be thinking of becoming a business owner. Continue Reading →

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What does the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce do for Black business?

Many Black business owners are not sure
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The overarching question of the MSR multi-part series on local Black businesses is, “Do Blacks support each other?” During our interviews with many local Black business owners, they told us that they are not members of the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC), which describes itself as “an alliance of business leaders and entrepreneurs” whose main vision “is to promote and improve the general welfare, prosperity and inter-connectedness of the community of African descent.”

Avenue Eatery Owner Sammy McDowell said he knows about the chamber but is not a member: “I don’t know what it is all about.”

“If I see what it is…if it’s something good for us to be in, I wouldn’t have no problems at all [being a member],” said South Minneapolis barber Cameron Cook. “Why I am not a member? I don’t know. I don’t have an excuse,” responded computer store owner Eugene Banks. “There are a lot of organizations that I am not a part of that I should be a part of. Continue Reading →

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Supporting our own

Community awareness, trust cited as factors in Black business and event success
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

With the African American community being relatively small in Minnesota, it can be challenging for Black business owners and those planning events targeted at Blacks to obtain the level of support they are seeking. But there are at least two events that continue to gain momentum each year. This year’s Twin Cities Black Film Festival (TCBFF) appeared to be attended by many Blacks. “This festival was one of our most successful festivals, because I did try to tap into those unknown groups” such as community groups with large numbers of African American in attendance, reported TCBFF Founder-Director Natalie Morrow. She noted that during the four-day event held in September, one film was sold out and other screenings had large crowds. Continue Reading →

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Successful Black businesses are open to criticism

Tomorrow’s young entrepreneurs need mentoring opportunities today
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Though the number of Black-owned businesses in Minnesota has been on the rise over the past 20 years, many of them fail to make it past the five-year mark that is generally believed to be the make-it-or-break-it period for new businesses. Currently there are over 200 different types of Black businesses in the Twin Cities area. The MSR recently talked with local Black business people who offered first-hand advice on how to help a Black business thrive today. “We have a great number of barbershops and hair salons, but I would like to see lawyers…and other [Black businesses] in the professional realm,” observed Michael Wright, St. Paul’s Golden Thyme owner and operator. Continue Reading →

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