(NNPA) LITHONIA–‘Spending Black and Putting Back’ was the theme of the Atlanta Business League’s sixth annual ‘Congress on the State of Black Business’ held March 19 at the Allen Entrepreneurial Institute in Lithonia.
The summit attracted hundreds of business professionals who examined factors that make or break Black businesses. Renowned business expert Dr. Claud Anderson, author of PowerNomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America and longtime civil rights activist and entrepreneur Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. addressed the summit. Event organizer Joseph Hudson said the summit is intended to devise and implement strategies to build, maintain and strengthen black-owned businesses.
“If we, as consumers, increase our spending at Black-owned establishments, the impact will ignite a robust economic movement within our community,” said Hudson, vice-chair of the business league’s public policy committee. “We have power that we have yet to leverage.”
Hudson said one of the major hurdles facing Black business owners is the negative perception some Black consumers have of Black-owned businesses.
“If I take my clothes over here to this dry cleaner, they are going to overcharge and give me poor service,” Hudson said, explaining the perception many Black consumers have of Black businesses. “That’s what people say about Black businesses—but our challenges are no different than any other community.”
Tunde Dean, owner of Atlanta Promovers, a Midtown-based moving company, agreed, adding:
“I get a lot of Black clients who always have a problem or complaint about the quality of work, or [people] who don’t want to tip,” he said. “It’s good to not have to work for anyone else, but it’s difficult being a new business.”
Hudson said Black businesses have been minimized for generations—a fact that needs to change if Atlanta’s Black economy is to thrive.
“Our businesses have been undervalued since desegregation, but most people weren’t around to see the barricade that White folks built out here to prevent Blacks from expanding further west” into Atlanta, said Hudson, 70. “That’s why we really need to get behind tourism as our next frontier to show how far we’ve come.”
Hudson pointed out that Black-buying power nationally is valued at $1.3 trillion, including about $58 billion in Georgia and $23.5 billion in metro Atlanta. The business league’s ‘Five Percent Solution’ campaign proposes that Black consumers donate five percent or more of their spending at African American owned restaurants, stores, and service-related entities.
“If we just spent five percent of our buying power in our own community, it could mean more than 52,000 jobs,” he said. He said successful Black-owned businesses like H.J. Russell, Gourmet Services and Capitol City Bank & Trust are solid examples of what Black businesses can achieve when Blacks invest in them—and vice versa.
Topics at the daylong summit included: ‘Black Business and the Black Church,’ ‘Black Business and Education’ and ‘Black Business and Culture.’