The third annual Black Business Week kicked off Monday, July 24. The week-long event, which ends Sunday, July 30, leads up to National Black Business Month in August and brings together residents, business owners, entrepreneurs, and community leaders to focus on Black economic development and inclusion.
Launched in 2020, the goal of Black Business Week is to amplify, celebrate, and strengthen Black businesses and leadership in Minneapolis. This year’s event is centered around building generational wealth and focuses on the impact that Black entrepreneurs can have on future generations.
“As we come together to celebrate Black Business Week in Minneapolis, we honor and uplift the immense contributions Black entrepreneurs and businesses have made to our economy,” said Mayor Jacob Frey in a press release announcing the celebration.
“This week and every week, let us support our BIPOC businesses, not just by purchasing their products and services, but by fostering environments that promote diversity and inclusivity. We must remain committed to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities so that entrepreneurs from all backgrounds can succeed.”
Among the economic investments in the Black community touted by the City include support for economic development along 38th Street, with $500,000 in one-time funding to Dreamland, a multi-tenant small business and event center; a $1 million business incubator investment on West Broadway in the ZaRah project; investing in the Rise Up Center, for BIPOC-workforce development in the green building and clean energy fields; and $400,000 in funding for competitive grants to support cultural malls impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Council President Andrea Jenkins, who organized Monday’s panel discussion on wealth-building, legacy and lending, encouraged city residents to attend activities and events throughout the week. “The work to invest in, and support, Black businesses and Black economic development is ongoing, and it takes all of us. Check out the programs and initiatives happening throughout Minneapolis and keep the momentum going 365 days out of the year.”
Monday’s panel, moderated by Sheletta Brundidge, included MSR publisher and CEO Tracey Williams-Dillard; Trent Bowman, VP of Community Impact for Bremer Bank; Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of Center for Economic Inclusion; Minneapolis Director of Housing and Policy Development Elfric Porte; Chief Lending Officer for Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) Adrian Ruddock; and Dr. Tara Watson, owner of Watson Chiropractic and Exceptional Home Health.
“One of the biggest challenges that we have right now is that many of our minority and Black businesses are not bankable,” said Bremer Bank’s Bowman. “We have to develop good credit,” he advised.
However, MEDA’s Ruddock encouraged those small business owners hoping to get financing, to develop a relationship with lending institutions.
“If I’m going to give you money, I have to get to know you,” said Ruddock.
Events throughout the week include job fairs, business resources, information on doing business with the city, real estate, legacy planning, and a Black Market pop-up event.
Watch the full panel discussion above.