Black small business owners gather ahead off lobbying session in St. Paul
(ABC 6 News) – Black business owners in southeast Minnesota and throughout the state are asking lawmakers for help when it comes to state funding.
These entrepreneurs are taking the issues straight to the capitol on Friday, Feb. 16 hoping their time with them will draw their attention to their issues. Many of their issues are facing greater disparities than their white counterparts, as they often are three step behinds the connections and access they have.
“We definitely need our legislators to get behind us because small business is very tough,” said Jessica Phillips, co-owner of Jersey Jo’s.
“When our legislatures are carving up these billions of dollars, there’s nobody saying, ‘Hey wait a minute. What about Black business owners?’ What do we have for them,” said Sheletta Brundidge, an organizer of Black Entrepreneurs Day.
It’s a gap that many small Black business owners are finding themselves in the middle of.
Jas ‘Laidee P’ Hardy knows all about these challenges saying many people, don’t take her business seriously.
“I get that energy a lot and I have to pursue myself even more. And I think. I know, being half-Black is a huge part of it,” said Hardy. “So, that’s one of my biggest struggles as far as trying to get funding to help my business grow.”
From local restaurants, to hair salons and live entertainment, Black entrepreneur’s are still seeing lines of segregation and are treated with discrimination in the community. They say there’s not enough support from state leaders.
And it’s not just a matter of gathering state funding for to support the short and long term needs of their businesses. Its also a matter of seeing support from their southeast Minnesota neighbors at their doors as well.
“We’re a multicultural hair salon and barber shop,” said Folashade Oloye Jordan, owner of Chasmere Lux Hair Salon. “What we want to see is everybody in our community collaborate.”
With the hopes that collaboration will finally bring those barriers down.
“It’s starting to come here but it’s just, it’s a slow process and we want to get , we’re trying to build and we want people to build with us as fast as we’re trying to go,” Gill Jordan, owner of Uncle Gill’s Barber Shop in Winona.
“For me it’s a matter of getting more people to help me to work for me, other DJs to work for me who need it, who want the experience. I’m not looking to hire DJs to work for me. I’m looking to inspire, to get other DJs out there to know there’s a bigger scene out there than just the bar’s and what not,” Hardy said.
That’s why these Black entrepreneurs are taking their mission straight to the state capitol hoping this time around law makers hear them out.
Organizers say they are anticipating over 800 Black small business owners throughout the state to be at the capitol a week from Friday, but they invite anyone wanting to help lift their voices to join them in St. Paul and help them lobby.