KILLEEN, TX — The pandemic has hit every business hard, including Black-owned businesses and businesses owned by other people of color.
Tamara Freeman opened her Black-owned business, Sweet Eats Bakery, in 2005.
“I know they were very few Black businesses, but as far as bakeries, I didn’t know of any,” she said.
Over the past 15 years, Freeman has seen her business grow and thrive, but she said many other businesses owned by people of color haven’t had the same story.
“Several come but they don’t last. I know several are military, and they come and they go,” she said. "However, for the ones that could possibly stay, I feel the information or the help that could have been provided for them wasn’t available.”
That is why the Black Innovation Chamber of Commerce's Texas Black Business Week is providing more than 15 free seminars to help give local businesses the tools they need to survive.
“I’m going knee-deep in a customer service, customer acquisition. We're also going into small business accounting business credit, as well as customer acquisitions,” said Ronnie Russell with the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce.
According to a study by the University of California Santa Cruz, 41% of Black-owned businesses across the country shut down between February and April of last year. Event organizers say they plan to teach people ways to keep their doors open amid the pandemic.
“The government or the state agencies begin to shut things down, they automatically talk about the nonessential businesses. So, looking at your business, how do you transition your business to nonessential to essential?” said Russell.
Chamber officials say it’s all about adding diversity and culture to our community and giving everyone a chance to showcase their business.
“We need to ensure that equity in a diverse way,” said Russell. “Whether you’re talking Black businesses, Asian businesses, Hispanic businesses, Native American businesses or women-owned businesses.”
“When we see what our neighborhood and our environment and our community... we can gain more knowledge to help those in our community,” said Freeman.
Event organizers say they also have seminars about government contracting, staying relevant on social media and more ways to help local businesses improve. The free week-long event will begin February 8.
To register for the event, click here.