KILLEEN, TX — The Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce kicked off their Texas Black Business Week with a reception in Killeen.
Organizers said their organization began to flourish during the pandemic as many of their members sought out help to keep their businesses afloat.
“People wanted to know where is, who to receive information, how to utilizing technology where they were going through email campaigns, Facebook live campaigns, or transitioning into SMS marketing with cell phones, text messages, just trying different things in order to give us the ultimate opportunity to be successful," Ronnie Russell, founder of the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce said.
Russell said it's not about offering a hand out rather a "hand up" for black-owned businesses in the area who oftentimes don’t have the resources to ensure longevity.
Russell and his team are working to change that.
“It’s about equity you know it’s not trying to seek approval or to talk about equality it’s about equity. Often times we don’t know because we’re not in the room for whatever reason and if you create the room then you’re just as responsible for the people who know about the room,” he said.
The IBCC did not officially launch until mid-February last year but now with 96 members across Central TX, they are striving to educate their partners to make sure their businesses succeed.
“Without us having a deliberate approach then we would have just stayed by the wayside like a lot of other people did," Russell said.
With no networking events due to COVID-19, hosting webinars online became their only way of relaying information to their members, many of whom were struggling to stay afloat.
The passion, drive and commitment to the community is what Mayor Jose Segarra said will propel Killeen forward.
“It’s just that tenacity to just drive on. We want to be a part of helping improve our community and that’s very important. We as leaders, the only thing that we can do is help encourage them and do whatever we can to try and make sure that they succeed,” said Segarra.
With the odds already stacked against them as Black business owners, Russell hopes every webinar, every event and each new member is a step closer to reaching equity.
“It’s not a separation or segregation from anyone else but understanding that we have a responsibility of moving forward and we have to become deliberate with our process," Russell said.
The IBCC is hosting a variety of events all throughout the week covering everything from how to build a brand, a veteran's workshop and much more.
To find out more click here.