U.S. Bank celebrated the culmination of Black Business Month and the first full year of Access Commitment LIVE!—the bank’s small business program for entrepreneurs of color—by recognizing local Black business owners with an event called “Shades of Black.” The celebration, which took place on August 30 at the Capri Theater, included food, entertainment, and a small-business panel discussion led by US Bank’s Vice President and Business Access Advisor Tim Farrow.
Among the small business owners who talked about how they got their start, their motivation for launching their business, and their struggles were Marlee James of Reviving Roots in Minneapolis, Dolly Agnew of Papa Legba’s Lounge in St. Paul, and Anthony Dean of TNT Academy, an athletic development program in Maple Grove.
Launched last year, Access Commitment LIVE! is part of U.S. Bank’s initiatives to support Black communities and ensure access to resources and connections to help sustain and grow Black-owned businesses and build generational wealth through homeownership. Through the bank’s Business Access Advisors, the series is designed to provide Twin Cities-metro-area Black business owners with information about accessing capital, financial and marketing tools, as well as learning opportunities.
“I know firsthand what it can mean to a small business when it lands a corporate contract. And this is why I jumped at the opportunity to produce these events,” said Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, CEO of Rae Mackenzie Group, which hosted the “Shades of Black” event. “While many may close the door and tell us we’re not contract-ready, U.S. Bank embraces the importance of sharing access,” she added. “Access to the people and resources that can help move us to that level no matter where we’re at with our business.”
Find a photo gallery of the event below. All photos by Chris Juhn.