Our Strength is in our Numbers... Our Power is in our Unity! 
July: USBC News & Upates
President's Message:
Rev-up Your Small Business Engine in the 4th Quarter
USBC President Ron Busby

We encourage our members and Black business owners across the nation to rev up their small business engines in the final stretch of the fiscal year. As the voice of the nation's Black business owners, we are utilizing the 4th quarter to aggressively educate small business owners about available resources to fund, sustain, and expand Black-owned businesses. I've outlined a few valuable resources below, please share with your networks. 


We look forward to a prosperous 4th quarter for our members and Black business owners. Stay tuned for upcoming educational webinars. 

In the Spirit of Success, 
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
Recent News and Press Statements:
July Highlight: USBC Attends Essence Festival
The USBC partnered with Essence Festival for its first-ever "Path to Power" business conference. The USBC played a key role with President Busby serving as a judge during Essence Festival's pitch competition, as well as hosting workshops for Black business owners. Our partnership with Essence is one of our many steps towards supporting and cultivating more Black entrepreneurs.   

USBC President Ron Busby (far right) presents check to Pitch Competition winners KleanKollar 

USBC Pitch Competition Contestants: left to righ, Arion Long, Femly, Inc., Kenneth Wright, Klean Collar, Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, Enrich Her

USBC staff and volunteers work together to set-up USBC's informational booth

Gain Exposure & Access with USBC's Black Business Directory:
USBC Directory is the best way to find Black businesses in your local area and around the globe!  More than 100,000+ Black-businesses, USBC Directory gives users access to Black-owned businesses, Black organizations, Black news and Black entertainment in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean Islands and in Africa.  Search our directory of Black-owned businesses to locate Soul Food, African American Museums, HBCUs, Black-Owned Banks, Black Hair Salons, Black Churches, Black Doctors and more near you! Use USBC Directory to support Black-owned businesses today and everyday!
Learn More

Upcoming Events & Workshops:
 2017 | Washington,
Free Chamber Training 
July 31- August 1st in Las Vegas


Black Chambers of Commerce: Don't Miss This Free Training for Chamber Leaders. 

Spread the Word: This program gives chamber and non-profit business association leaders the opportunity to learn insights from experts on how to effectively to grow and strengthen your chamber or non-profit.

The President's Council's Business Conference
August 21st & 22nd in Cleveland, Ohio

This 2-Day event is part of the year-long, community-wide commemoration of Carl and Luis Stokes and is designed to bring together African-American business owners & leaders, to provide leadership, innovative ideas, and resources to advance African-American owned and operated businesses thus contributing to the overall growth and economic development in Northeast Ohio. This year's business conference welcomes all who share in The Presidents' Council mission of closing the gaps to African-American business owners and provide economic opportunities to the communities they serve; and who actively seek progress in removing barriers linked to those challenges.
RSVP Today
Government Relations and Public Policy Update:
USBC Advocates for Black Business Owners & Continued Funding of MBDA

This month USBC's President Ron Busby joined the Democratic Members of the Small Business Committee and Members of the Democratic Caucus for a roundtable discussion on small business trade issues and specifically the renegotiation of NAFTA. Ron Busby presented issues facing Black business owners and advocated for the continued funding of the Minority Business Development Agency. 
Get Involved:
Join Us: Bank-Black

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U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., 1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036

In Partnership with Essence Fest

USBC to Host a Pitch Competition:

"Pitch City" 

July 1st | New Orleans | Essence Fest

A Business Conference Where the Management Tips Come From Master P!

2013 BET Experience - BET Revealed Seminars

By: Andrew Nusca

As published in Forbes

June 21, 2017

With more than 450,000 attendees, the Essence Festival is a sight to behold. The annual bash, put on by our colleagues at Essence magazine in New Orleans, always features an incredible collection of performances by luminaries from the music and entertainment business. (Headliners  this year: Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, Chance the Rapper. Not too shabby.)

But the festival, scheduled this year for June 29 to July 2, is more than evening spectacle. The daytime program events inside the convention center span food, beauty, and-this year especially- business and entrepreneurship.

Essence will host its first "Path to Power" conference that's free for festival attendees and perfect for Fortune readers. There will be more than 40 sessions and workshops on the agenda for people to network and learn, covering topics such as brand marketing, startups, partnering with corporations, pivoting your company, sustainable business models, and government technology. Good stuff.

There are some great speakers, too. Among them: Carla Harris of Morgan Stanley, Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter, Jessica Matthews of Uncharted Play, Bari Williams of StubHub, and-my personal favorite-Percy Miller, a.k.a. Master P, the New Orleans native son and rapper turned investor and executive. (Say uhh!)

Essence partnered with the National Urban League, Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Black Chambers, #YesWeCode (The Dream Corps), and Women's Business Enterprise  National Council to put on the event.

Elsewhere at the festival, there's a Shark Tank-style competition called "Pitch City" in partnership with the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. and, on the festival's Empowerment stage, a conversation with Doug McMillon-CEO of the No. 1 company on the Fortune 500, Walmart. Not a bad way to spend a long weekend in the Big Easy.


May: USBC News & Updates
President's Message: 
Uniting Black Business Leaders & Black Chambers of Commerce
2016 USBC Conference. Pictured left to right: Ed Gordon, Ron Busby, Dr. Jeffry Ogbar, and DeRay McKesson.

The times we live in call for strategic collaboration between Black organizations to collectively use their platforms to advance the economic, socioeconomic, and overall well-being of the Black community. Brazen police brutality, relentless murders, the steep racial wealth gap, and barriers Black entrepreneurs face are among the reasons why Black organizations need to form alliances to collectively make a powerful impact. With this in mind, we're collaborating with select African American Chambers of Commerce to bring together Black Business Leaders and Black Chambers of Commerce for our 7th Annual School of Chamber & Business Management conference. 

More than a business conference, our 3-day intensive business school is a conduit for the development and success of Black-owned businesses nationwide. It's also a great resource for Black business leaders and Chamber executives to learn, make powerful connections, and receive high-dollar funding. During last year's conference, a total of $70,000 was awarded between 13 Chambers across the country, providing much needed capital to African American Chambers of Commerce.

2016 USBC Conference. Pictured: Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce receiving a $10,000 check from Wells Fargo on behalf of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc.

As the voice of the nation's Black business owners, we pride ourselves on our annual conference that unites Black business leaders and African American Chambers of Commerce to work towards the distinct goal of increasing the number of Black-owned businesses. This year's conference will feature three course tracks: (1) Chamber of Commerce Executives, (2) Established Business Owners, and (3) Millennial Entrepreneurs.

We invite you to join us at our upcoming conference. We're providing conference attendees with a luxury stay at the Marriott Marquis for a generously reduced rate, which expires May 21st. We've also extended the early-bird registration discounted rate until May 26th. We look forward to welcoming you to our 7th annual School of Chamber & Business Management conference. Click here for the early-bird rate. Click here to book your hotel room.

In the Spirit of Success, 
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
Recent News and Press Statements:
Chamber Leader Talking Points:
  • USBC's Bank Black Initiative: Access to capital remains the #1 reason preventing Black-owned businesses from growth and sustainability. As a solution, the USBC has partnered with Liberty Bank to produce a low interest rate credit card designed to help Black entrepreneurs secure a line of credit for personal expenses and/or business expenses. We encourage Chamber Leaders to inform their membership about the USBC Credit Card program as a viable resource for securing capital. Learn more here
  • Become A Promotional Partner: 
    Help us spread the word about our signature event: USBC School of Chamber and Business Management conference. To receive promotional materials, contact Krystal Glass at: Krystal@usblackchambers.org

Featured Resources for Entrepreneurs:

7th Annual School of Chamber & Business Management
June 14, 2017 - June 17, 2017 | Washington, DC.

The USBC School of Chamber & Business Management is the only conference bringing together both Black business owners and African American Chambers of Commerce for a business conference that simultaneously strengthens African American Chambers of Commerce and Black business owners! 

Check out our line-up of educational workshops and panel discussions with the nation's top Black business leaders. Don't miss the networking luncheons, advocacy gala, and much more!

 Register Here

 View Agenda

 View Speakers

Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference


Join us for the Airport Minority Advisory Council's (AMAC) Annual Business Diversity Conference: The Magic of Flight - the premier aviation industry event of the year - hosted and sponsored by the Houston Airport System from June 16-20, 2017. You'll get three days of engaging networking, inspiring speakers and impactful educational sessions designed to elevate you to the next level of business! 
Government Relations and Public Policy Update:
House Small Business Committee Hearing:
Empowering Small Businesses- The Accelerator Model


On Wednesday, May 3rd , the House Small Business Committee held a hearing titled, "Empowering Small Businesses: The Accelerator Model." The hearing focused on how business accelerators assist entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses grow and create jobs, while also offering Members of the Committee the opportunity to hear from organizations that are directly involved in offering private sector resources to small businesses. Organized in a way to fast-track business expansion, accelerators offer small businesses the opportunity to interact with top business professionals. This is an issue of interest to the Committee as it considers ways to help create an environment to facilitate a greater role for accelerators.
Get Involved:
Join Us: Bank-Black

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U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., 1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036

National Small Business Week
Support Black-owned Businesses

Media Contact: 
Krystal Glass
See Media Inquiry Form Below

USBC Shares 4 Resources to Support Black-owned Businesses during
National Small Business Week

This week marks National Small Business Week, an annual event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to recognize the nation's top small businesses, entrepreneurs, small business advocates and champions. As the voice for the nation's Black business owners, USBC released the following 4 resources to support Black-owned businesses during National Small Business Week:

#1.) Funds for Black Entrepreneurs. Bank-Black is the single most powerful economic movement currently taking place in the Black community. Now is the time to utilize our Black banks as more than a place to hold our money, but as a resource for securing capital. In an effort to help Black entrepreneurs obtain capital for personal and/or business use, we've created a credit card program as a funding resource for Black entrepreneurs. Click here to learn more.

#2.) Nationwide Listing of Black-owned Business. Many of the struggling Black-owned businesses are those that are difficult to find, many are still unsearchable online. We're helping Black businesses gain visibility through our mobile app designed to help consumers locate Black-owned businesses, especially those that are difficult to find due to not having an online presence. Download the mobile app by visiting your app store and searching for "USBC Mobile App." 

#3.) Training for Black Entrepreneurs. The U.S. Black Chambers Inc. Community Economic Development Corporation is currently providing 2 programs to assist Black entrepreneurs: The Capital Pathways Program, which provides insight and expert guidance as it relates to credit, contracts and capital. And the Millennial Entrepreneurs Redefined Program, which educates and connects a national network of our community's most promising millennial entrepreneurs.

#4.) An Opportunity to Learn From & Connect with Black Business Influencers. Chamber Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders, and Black Business Advocates will gather in Washington, DC for the U.S. Black Chamber's 7th Annual School of Chamber & Business Management conference held June 14th-16th. The USBC School of Chamber & Business Management is the only conference bringing together both Black business owners and African American Chambers of Commerce for a 3-day intensive business conference. For conference updates click here to check our website. 

In honor of National Small Business Week, we're proud to say our initiatives are helping to support and sustain Black-owned businesses. 
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) provides committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. The USBC is an association of more than 100 self-sustaining viable Black Chambers and small business associations nationwide and serves close to 250,000 small businesses. More information can be found at www.usblackchambers.org.
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The State of Black Businesses in the United States 


The State of Black Businesses in the U.S.

By: Eric Craig

As published in Data News Weekly

The month of February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time where the nation recalls the triumphs, inventions and strides of African-Americans in United States history.

While the month is usually geared towards celebrating Black individuals in United States, it can also be used as a point in time to reflect on the current state of Black people. One area in particular is the growth of Black wealth in the nation, which can easily be measured by the amount of Black businesses in operation.

So how well are Black Businesses in the United States?

State of Black Businesses:


African-American businesses have grown at an exponential rate in the 21st Century. According to the United States Black Chambers, Inc., in 2012 there were 1.9 million Black businesses. In Fall of 2015, there were over 2.6 million. Black women tend to start more businesses on average, according to the data.

However, Black Businesses still face challenges in the new year.

"The challenges the Black businesses face, any business regardless of race for that matter, is location and access to capital," said Ron Busby, Sr., CEO and President of the United States Black Chambers, Inc.

When small Black Businesses obtain capital through loans, they either have a high interest rate or never receive as much as needed, Busby said.

While access to capital is one disadvantage of minority firms, information is among the many that can stagnate Black businesses.

"Challenges Black businesses face year to year is the same: It's access to information. Most small minority businesses are unaware of many opportunities," said Kelisha Garrett, the executive director of the New Orleans Regional Black Chambers of Commerce.

Garret works for the Consulting Group Gen-X, which focuses on business development by linking small minority firms to large corporations that are looking to fulfill contracted tasks.

"There has been a significant push from the smaller corporate entities for more inclusion with more minority businesses," Garret said.

Particularly in New Orleans, infrastructure and construction related services have been on a rise, especially for minority businesses. However, professional services, such as marketing, public relations and legal have not grown nearly as fast.

"We have capable minority businesses that provide those services, but they are not highly identified within the larger push that's coming from the public or private sector," Garrett said.

Stereotypes of Black Businesses:

While Black businesses have seen growth throughout the years, they sometimes struggle with the stigma of being less than, less organized, and less effective than their majority counterparts.

Both Busby and Garret say that myth is false, especially in the 21st Century.

"It's a perception that has continued to go around the country, that our product and services are inferior," Busby said.

"But that's in fact not true. Looking at the size and infrastructure of majority firms, they have the ability to invest back in the firm. Many Black firms don't have the resources to invest back."

Many big box stores, and majority-owned chains have been around longer than their minority counterparts. That additional time has allowed them to work out quirks that are common in any start up business, Busby said.

Majority owned counterparts have been in existence longer, and have more resources to act quicker than a 'mom and pop' store. That has led to minority businesses leading to a jaded response, because of the lack of an ability to move as quickly as its majority owned counterpart" Garrett said.

"Home Depot started with one store at a time, just as many Black Businesses start slowly. If all circumstances were equal things would be different.

Another concern is the higher cost of goods at Black establishments compared to their majority-owned counterparts.

"This lays into the fact that we pay more because we buy less. We cannot leverage our dollars. Larger corporations have purchase power in volumes, and we're purchasing in need," Garrett said.

When shopping, consider minority businesses had to pay a little more to receive the same item, Garrett added.

"As we continue to have pride in our community and our businesses that myth will decrease. But I don't think the fact and the myth is that Black people's services are inferior. That's true today, and it's true 40 years ago," Busby said.

Goals for African-American Businesses:

The United States Black Chambers, Inc., is spearheading the "Black Wealth 2020," which is an initiative to close the wealth gap between White and Black families by the year 2020. The USBC has partnered with over 22 other organizations geared towards building Black wealth.

The new initiative plans to increase the number of home owners by 2 million, increase the number of Black Businesses to 4 million, and to increase the general number of African-Americans banking at Black banks.

The USBC has developed an application for both iPhone and Android users to help users find Black businesses in their immediate neighborhood. According to the USBC, there are over 101,000 Black businesses in its application's directory.

Through the Black Wealth Initiative, the USBC also hopes to increase Black annualized revenue. In 2014, the annual revenue, on average, for Black Businesses was $86,000. In 2015, the annualized revenue was $75,000.

Reflection of Past African-Americans in Business:

Throughout history, several African-Americans have taken on the task of starting a business to build the wealth and social power of Blacks in the United States. Many bBack businesses today stand on the shoulders of these great men and women. Here are a short list of some of successful African American entrepreneurs.

  • Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone was an inventor and philanthropist in the early 20th century. Born in 1869, Malone developed cosmetics for African-American women, including hair care and skin-safe hair perm. Malone also created to Poro college, a beauty college for African-American women.
  • Madam C. J Walker was an entrepreneur and philanthropist in the early 20th century, and is currently regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. Walker worked for Malone, but soon ventured off to her own company that pioneered hair care for African-American women. Despite popular belief, Walker did not invent the hot comb, but her business did successfully pushed, supplied and refined the technology, making it more accessible for consumers.
  • John Harold Johnson was known as an American publisher, and the owner of Ebony, Negro Digest and Jet Magazine. In his publications, Johnson supported publishing Black national news, entertainment and features, which had little to no national support at the beginning of his publication. Johnson was the first African-American ma to appear on the Forbes 400 list in the early 1980s.

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U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., 1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036

Finance Expert Backs USBC's Bank-Black Card

William Michael Cunningham (aka Bill Cunningham) is an expert in Socially Responsible Investing. He works with pension fund trustees, investment managers, investment analysts, community activists, government agencies and financial industry organizations to create and implement social and community investing initiatives. 
Cunningham Outlines the Benefits of
USBC's Bank-Black Card
The USBC's Bank-Black Card is gaining waves of support from Black business experts and advocates including celebrity actress Kim Fields, basketball icon Lisa Leslie, and most recently finance expert Bill Cunningham. Take a look at Cunningham's brief breakdown of the the benefits of USBC's Bank-Black Card. Share this with your network of Black entrepreneurs. 

The USBC's Bank-Black initiative serves as a resource to help Black entrepreneurs gain access to much needed funds for business expenses and personal use.


Join Us, Bank-Black: www.USBlackChambers.org/bankblack
Connect with Us on Facebook & Twitter #USBCBankBlack
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., 1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036

Bank Black - It's Serious Business

By: U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. President Ron Busby
In the wake of the continued outrages of police shootings, the effort to raise awareness of the need for a sound financial foundation for Black America has gained momentum across the country. The USBC's Bank-Black awareness campaign, launched in conjunction with the National Bankers Association, has supplied much of the energy.
We feel especially gratified about the hundreds of thousands of new account holders at America's Black-owned banks. Since the USBC's inception as the "Voice of Black Business," increasing access to capital was incorporated into our mission statement. Increased deposits in Black financial institutions are critical components in alleviating this longstanding challenge to business growth and expansion.
At the same time, though, we are concerned that Bank Black will get pushed to the back corner of the nationwide Black conscience when the latest, hottest "hashtag" movement comes along. We cannot afford - literally - to fail to maintain/sustain the energy behind this hyper-important strategic plank.
We also cannot afford to understand the fact that the simple act of moving deposit accounts to Black banks is only part of the effort to grow Black-owned businesses. If Black America moved ALL of its trillion-plus dollars of income to Black-owned banks without changing our spending patterns we will have missed the single biggest opportunity to change Black America since the Civil Rights Era.
To our point, this is serious business. Without the availability of capital for expansion, businesses will struggle. There is ample evidence that Black-owned banks continue to lead the way in extending loans to Black business, despite the few numbers of them across the country. The giant, "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions have proved to be far better at lip service than at actually putting Black depositors' money to work in the communities from which they draw deposits. Our deposits in Black-owned financial institutions put tremendous pressure on big banks to change their lending patterns.
When we fail to make the connection between patronizing Black-owned businesses - even in the face of less than stellar customer service (a frequent complaint of those whose commitment is to the "fad" nature of social media activism) - we fail to understand the importance of successful, profitable Black-owned businesses. We at the USBC love to point out that if all Black-owned businesses in America were able to hire one new employee we will eliminate black unemployment completely.
Black-owned businesses - including Black banks - need our unqualified support! Understand that the customer service you've grown to expect is a function of your money at work. When we patronize Black-owned businesses at the same rate we spend at other businesses we will get the same customer experience. When we deposit our dollars in Black-owned banks at the same rate we currently deposit in big banks, we will see them able to provide online banking, expanded ATM coverage and more loans to black-owned businesses.
Access to a line of credit has long been an issue for Black business owners and individuals. We know first-hand the challenges and barriers facing Black individuals who are seeking business and/or personal funding. To remedy this problem we forged a partnership with one of the nation's most trusted and historic Black-owned banks, to offer access to a line of credit through Liberty Bank.

We have to understand that making history is difficult... ask U.S. Rep. John Lewis and other stalwarts of the Civil Rights Era. Read and understand the history of banking pioneers as early as 1888. (side note: Think about it - there were enough Black-owned businesses twenty years after the Civil War to need a Black-owned bank!) If Black America is serious about harnessing our ever-growing spending power...if Black America is serious about expanding access to capital for Black-owned businesses...if Black America is truly committed to building a sound financial foundation for our communities nationwide, then Bank Black is the most effective tool at our disposal.
It's serious business, y'all! Keep making those deposits in Black-owned banks and support black-owned businesses! Look for exciting news about USBC's groundbreaking new credit card program with Liberty Bank-- It's a game changer for our community.
In the spirit of success,
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chambers Inc. President      

Video: USBC Bank-Black Initiative 
Featuring Kim Fields
Press Inquiries:
USBC President Ron Busby is available for statements and press interviews.
USBC's Bank-Black Success Story

"Banking-Black can be a seed that with cultivation can increase Black personal wealth."
-Ed Swailes, USBC Bank Card recipient.
Black Business Owner Uses USBC Bank Card to Keep Business Financially Stable
Ed Swailes is the Founding Managing Director of The Syndicate Inc., an award-winning marketing agency. He currently directs corporate image-enhancement for major retail and tourism advertising, along with conference sponsorships and organizational resource development for the company's client list. Prior to founding The Syndicate, Mr. Swailes spent 15 years in national print advertising sales. Ed Swailes has successfully established himself as the "go-to" guy for advertising and sponsorship development.
As a long-standing business owner, Ed knows firsthand how important access to capital is for business sustainability. Ed was first introduced to USBC's Bank Card by USBC's President Ron Busby. When asked why he applied for the USBC Bank Card and how the card helping his business, here's what Ed had to say:
"I applied for the USBC Bank Card as a way to pay down higher interest credit cards. The USBC Bank Card is a great way to improve one's credit rating while taking advantage of the lower interest rate. Increased credit and a better interest rate to pay down existing business expenses helps my business stay financially stable."
Bank-Black is the single most powerful economic movement currently taking place in Black America. "Now" is the time to utilize our Black banks as more than a place to hold our money, but as a resource for securing capital. When asked about the importance of banking Black, here's what Ed had to say:
"Bank-Black is extremely important, it can be an economic engine used to finance every day needs in the Black community like mortgages, car loans, equity loans, etc.  As well as, business loans thus creating a more economically stable Black community, allowing Black businesses to grow, who can then provide more products and services and most importantly jobs."
In an effort to help Black entrepreneurs obtain capital for personal or business use, the USBC has created a Bank Card with one of the nation's most trusted and historic Black-owned banks-- Liberty Bank. Join us in banking Black. Apply here for your USBC Bank Card.

Learn more about the U.S. Black Chambers Bank Card by visiting:www.USBlackChambers.org/bankblack
Connect with Us on Facebook & Twitter #USBCBankBlack
U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., 1050 17th Street, NW,Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036

Some Black Businesses Strain to get Black Consumers

"There's a myth that's been placed on our communities for many generations: White people's ice is colder. White businesses are superior to black businesses," says Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chambers, a national business organization for black-owned companies. "We have to change that mentality. We have to be better, conscientious consumers."

As published in the Salt Lake Tribune:

New York-- When Terina McKinney displays her leather bags and belts at events attended primarily by black women, they are often interested in her designs, and in her experience as an African-American business owner. But she seldom makes sales.

"They all ooh and ahh and ask a ton of questions, but don't necessarily make purchases," says McKinney, whose Jypsea Leathergoods products range from $20 to $325. Instead, her customers tend to be white or Asian women.

While calls have been increasing for black consumers to support black-owned businesses with their buying power estimated at more than $1.2 trillion a year, social media campaigns with momentum like (hash)buyblack are relatively new. And McKinney's frustration is shared by some other black business owners who say they can find it hard to sell to black consumers.

The factors can be logistical or practical, such as being located farther away or having higher prices than big chain stories, retail experts and civic leaders say. Scarcity can be a reason: It can be hard to find businesses owned by African-Americans. But other considerations might be emotional, like wanting a trendy design everyone is wearing, or the perception that national brands are better.

"There's a myth that's been placed on our communities for many generations: White people's ice is colder. White businesses are superior to black businesses," says Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chambers, a national business organization for black-owned companies. "We have to change that mentality. We have to be better, conscientious consumers."

McKinney, who lives in Camden, New Jersey, outside of Philadelphia, says her lower sales to black shoppers don't seem to be a matter of money, since she finds that many will spend on well-known labels.

Designer Joede Brown has seen similar responses to her crocheted clothing, which sells under the Black Pearl Creations brand from under $30 to up to $500 for the most intricate pieces. She finds black customers sometimes say her products are too expensive, although they'll wear a big-name brand that costs the same or more.

Brown, who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, recognizes that a preference for well-known brands isn't limited to the black community, but also wonders if buying them is a statement: "You've beaten me down, but look, I can have this too."

Consumers who do try to focus their spending on black-owned companies say finding them requires research, and it can take more time and effort to get there. But locating options is getting far easier, both through local and national social media campaigns and online lists from groups like the U.S. Black Chambers.

"This is the only way we as a people can generate wealth, by supporting our own," says Rebecca Briscoe, of Houston. Her grandfather's photography company was black-owned and focused on black customers from the 1940s onward because white photographers would not do business with them.

"If you don't support their business, they don't have a business," says Briscoe.

Campaigns like #buyblack and also #bankblack, which encourages people to use black-owned financial institutions, are having an impact. The #bankblack campaign got a boost last month from rapper and activist Killer Mike, who called on people to shift their money to these banks. OneUnited Bank has gone from 50 new accounts a day to as many as 1,000, says Teri Williams, president of the financial institution that has offices in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles and also operates online.

"It's opening the community's eyes to the many ways they're spending their dollars," Williams says of the campaigns.

Businesses that provide a service may have more success than those that sell merchandise, says Jerome Williams, a marketing professor at Rutgers University.

"Since service businesses tend to involve more people interactions, the people relationships should prove to be more important, compared to situations where the focus is primarily on the product," he says.

Small and medium-sized retailers can find it hard to compete on price and selection with giants such as Wal-Mart that can negotiate lower prices with manufacturers through their scale. And finding black retailers and service providers across a range of industries isn't always easy, Jerome Williams says.

"As a black consumer, if I wanted to buy from a black-owned merchant, there aren't enough to satisfy my needs," he says.

The nearly 2.6 million black-owned companies in the United States account for about 9 percent of the total number of businesses in a country where 13 percent of the population is black. The 2012 census of businesses found that black-owned operations made up about 6 percent of all U.S. retailers and about 7 percent of businesses that provide food or accommodation.

Financial counselor Harrine Freeman has black-owned beauty supply and clothing stores, a dollar store, shoe repair and other service providers not too far from her Washington, D.C., home. She has searched online or asked friends and neighbors to find other businesses. But other black-owned stores might be an hour's drive away.

"I'm willing to drive that far, but that's not to say I can go there every week," Freeman says.

Many stores in traditionally black neighborhoods may also have changed hands. In parts of Los Angeles, including the once-majority black South Central area, Hispanics have replaced many of the black residents, and many black-owned businesses have closed or moved, says Joe Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates Inc. in Los Angeles.

Black-owned businesses offer black consumers distinct advantages - especially if shoppers have felt discriminated against at other places - and can provide services tailored to their needs, says Geraldine Henderson, a marketing professor at Loyola University in Chicago. She cited health care providers who understand medical concerns that may be more relevant to black patients.

"You want to go to a provider with cultural competence," Henderson says.

Maggie Anderson, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, wrote a book called "Our Black Year" about her effort to buy from black-owned businesses exclusively. That included the stores where she and her husband bought food, clothing, household necessities and personal care items, as well as service providers like hair salons, auto mechanics and restaurants.

Sometimes that meant driving 50 miles to get things. Sometimes it meant going without fresh fruit because they couldn't find what they wanted at a black-owned store. It meant telling their daughters "no" when a toy or book wasn't sold at a black-owned shop.

"It was a message to our fellow black consumers that we have to be more accountable to what has happened to and what is happening to our community," Anderson says.

Anderson says she has sensed some wariness when she speaks with groups of black consumers about her project, because the audience understands the amount of work involved. She says she also knows that while she had the time and financial resources to devote to the endeavor, people with lower incomes, little spare time and lacking the means to travel might have difficulty doing the same.

"It is not that that black consumers will not shop with black stores, products or services," says Hicks. "Most American consumers are looking for the best buy, the most convenient, best quality within a relatively short distance from where they live."

Make an Impact!

Buy-Black, Bank-Black


Here's How: 

Step 1: Buy Black. Support Black-owned businesses. You can immediately download the USBC app for a nationwide list of Black-owned businesses. Search your mobile apps for "USBC Mobile App."

Step 2: Bank Black. Support one of the nation's most historic and trusted Black bank-- Liberty Bank. Bank-Black by securing a line of credit through Liberty Bank. Learn more about USBC's Liberty Bank-Black Credit Card. Take an economic stand, apply today.

Port Covington

Last week, community leaders, faith leaders, politicians and members of Sagamore Development joined together to announce an unprecedented $100 million city-wide benefits commitment, the largest benefits package in the City's history, and a turning point for Baltimore.

These groups came together to create a commitment that will support City-wide programs on education, workforce development, youth assistance, and empowerment. These benefits also include commitments to inclusionary and affordable housing, supplier diversity, and local hiring.

"We are dedicated to making sure Port Covington benefits the entire City. We are committed to being the best neighbors we can be, being the best stewards of the investment the City is making, and to ensuring Port Covington's success is Baltimore's success," said Alicia Wilson, Vice President of Community Affairs at Sagamore.

To learn more, watch this video and then share it with your friends.

Want more details about the commitment? Read more here.


--The Port Covington Team

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