By LaKeshia N. Myers
August is Black Business Month, a time to celebrate and cherish the many African American-owned businesses across the country. In 2019, there were 134,567 black-owned employer businesses (businesses with more than one employee) across all sectors of the U.S. economy, an 8% increase from the 124,551 black-owned employer businesses. to blacks in 2018, according to the Annual Business Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau. This is important as we are seeing a transition from big box retailers to smaller community stores in most communities. It’s also important for understanding the purchasing power of the 1.2 trillion African Americans.
According to the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, “healthy black-owned businesses could be a critical part of closing the black-white wealth gap in the United States, which we believe will cost the economy between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion (in 2018 dollars) per year by 2028” (McKinsey, 2022).
African American businesses have been integral to stabilizing our community for generations. In Wisconsin, we are fortunate to have the Columbia Savings & Loan Association, the first (and only surviving) black banking institution in the state of Wisconsin. Columbia is one of forty-two black banks in the United States. Established in 1924 by Mr. Wilbur and Mrs. Ardie Halyard, the bank funded home loans for many African-American families and churches in the community.
I make a concerted effort to purchase goods and services from Black-owned businesses whenever possible. For work or play, it is more than likely that a minority provider will offer a service. Understand that these are usually small businesses, offering unique products and directly impacting families. I encourage everyone to explore a new black-owned business by downloading the MKE Black app or picking up a copy of the Wisconsin Black Pages.