By Charles Hallman
The Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) says it is ready to become “a catalyst for change” for the Black community.
Over 100 Black business members and others attended the September 29 MBCC annual meeting at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach Center. The MBCC, which was founded in 2004, will focus on three key areas: economic development, youth leadership development, and building the organization’s infrastructure, said MBCC President Lea Hargett during her remarks.
Afterwards, Hargett explained, “As it relates to economic development, we specifically are looking for ways in which to bring capital to our businesses and helping our businesses grow and be able to create jobs. We also are interested in creating incentives and working with others in creating incentives to attract our businesses to our communities, where we need their presence more than any other — i.e., North Minneapolis.”
In developing future leaders, Hargett continued, “This is actually us working on our succession plan by developing our young people and making sure that they all grow up with and understand the importance of giving back, but also teaching them about governance and about how to own and operate their own business.”
Both Hargett, president of JOG Associates, and MBCC board member Gloria Freeman of Olu’s Home, Inc., a local children’s social service agency, admit that the Black community may not be fully aware of the Chamber. “I think some of the Black community knows, but we need to do a better job at reaching our community more,” said Freeman.
Hargett said she believes the MBCC is beginning to become a critical voice among both corporate and political entities.
University of Minnesota Business and Community Economic Development Director D. Craig Taylor said that his office wants to work with the Chamber. “It is an organization that is full of very committed, dedicated people. I look forward to the opportunity to work with them in the future.”
The Minnesota Vikings “wants to see [the MBCC] thrive and will do whatever we can to get behind it,” pledged Public Affairs Vice President Lester Bagley.
“I am also looking to people to open their doors, sit down, and engage in a discussion with me when I call [them],” said Hargett. “We are cultivating those relationships.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-record er.com.