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Alamo City Chamber response to Bexar County

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DEAR MR. SMITH:

We (The Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce) received your letter dated July 17, 2018 “suspending” the Agreement. While the Chamber is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the County, we are disappointed with both the suspension and the manner in which the suspension arose.

As a reminder of how the Agreement materialized:

The Chamber was approached around January of 2018 regarding the results of Bexar County’s UTSA AABE study. The study demonstrated rather clearly that, despite existing programs in the County, African-American Business Enterprises (“AABE”) accounted for merely 3.8% of all firms in the Bexar County- San Antonio Metropolitan Area. The study further identified that these businesses faced barriers to contracting and advancement that could be ameliorated with management assistance and training. Despite the desire and stated commitment to alleviate this problem and prior initiatives regarding the same from numerous parties (and even the County’s own DBE department), the community continued to experience a gap in the availability and capacity of African-American Business Enterprises.

Founded in 1938, the Chamber is the third oldest black chamber of commerce in the United States. The Chamber has a diverse mix of board members and relationships with other, similarly aligned organizations. The Chamber is thus a natural partner for matters affecting the black business community in the Bexar County- San Antonio Metropolitan Area.

After being approached to propose a resolution to the issues identified in the UTSA AABE Study, the Chamber spent months developing a proposal for a program that would train and equip both African American Business Enterprises and other underserved businesses in the County to bid on County contracts and ultimately succeed in becoming contracting partners with the County. The first contract/grant proposal was presented to the County on or about January 4, 2018. Between January 2018 and March 2018, the County’s staff and the Chamber closely collaborated, and the Chamber received feedback on requested adjustments and capacity building that the County sought in order for the Chamber to be a grant recipient.

The full Commissioner’s Court fielded multiple responses from the Chamber and others regarding the proposal, and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed program.

The Chamber and Black Contractor’s Association then made a public presentation and request for approval of the Chamber’s proposal (and the Agreement) to the full Bexar County Commissioner’s Court on March 13, 2018 along with a proposed budget. Program goals and solutions were presented in detail, including proposed partnerships, performance measurement, and the Chamber’s capacity for goal achievement. The Chair of the County’s SWMBE Advisory Committee, Chris Forbrich, and Renee Watson, the County’s SWMBE manager, were in attendance (Ms. Watson made a presentation regarding AABE’s immediately prior to the Chamber’s presentation). Frank Dunn and Margaret Wilson-Anaglia, members of the County’ SWMBE Advisory Committee, were also in attendance. Joe Linson, another member of the SWMBE Advisory Committee, voiced his support for the Chamber’s proposal during the Chamber’s presentation commenting that “this has been vetted.” Commissioner Kevin Wolff asked various questions about the program’s reach and performance metrics, which the Chamber addressed, including multiple clarifications that the reach of the program was not limited to AABEs. Commissioner Tommy Calvert highlighted the program’s ongoing reporting requirements. Commissioner Paul Elizondo commented on the goal of developing local businesses within the Bexar County metro area to help fill the gap in such a manner that programs like the Chamber’s proposal became unnecessary. The full Commissioner’s Court fielded multiple responses from the Chamber and others regarding the proposal, and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed program. Video of the presentation is available on the County’s website.

See more: Full Response at Alamo City Chamber website

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As “Shop Black Week” 2020 is Primed to Make History, TikTok, Shopify, Amazon and Walmart Are Now Jumping on the Bandwagon

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ATLANTA, Nov. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — “Shop Black Week” began years ago as a meeting of the minds that included determined Black business owners and community organizers as a campaign to promote Black economic empowerment that soon escalated and became a world-wide movement. The idea of Shop Black Week (SBW) was to encourage consumers to simply add “shopping with a Black-owned business” to their to-do-list. The Official Shop Black Week 2020 campaign has over 200 organizations involved, which represents over 1.5 million members, subscribers and followers who will share and hashtag #shopblackweek to encourage mass participation. The SBW campaign simply asks every American to make at least one purchase from a Black-owned business from November 20-27th and into the holiday season.

Systemic economic disparities are not new; however, the COVID-19 pandemic brought this to the forefront. Recently, an overwhelming amount of attention has been placed on the disparities and injustices within the Black community. Because the SBW organizers are Black business owners themselves, they were more than aware of these disparities and even more than aware that nothing short of a major movement would be necessary to address this issue knowing that many small businesses suffered and had to shut down.

As Black business-owners, the SBW campaign began as a S.O.S. (Save Our-Selves) call to action. However, it seems that others want in on the Black movement because it is in fashion these days. Recently, TikTok, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Shopify (all non-Black owned entities) have launched Black initiatives, and specifically TikTok has termed their “new initiative,” unbelievably, “Shop Black Week” too. According to the organizers of the Official Shop Black Week, in an attempt to preempt the Official Shop Black Week campaign, the corporate giant has created a new start date, one week before the official grassroots campaign launches. “Google ‘shop black week,’ to see hundreds of results displayed; visit the website to see all of our participating organizations and partners. As the true Official ‘Shop Black Week,’ we are concerned that these large corporate giants have not responded to our request for partnership, but instead, they are attempting seemingly to capitalize off Black consumers and business owners,” said Carla Tillman, PhD, Shop Black Week’s National Director.

The copycat shop-black-week promoters indicated that they have hand-picked and pre-selected some Black-owned vendors to feature. “That’s great!” says Sharon S. Gordon, media partner of SBW, “however, organizers of the Official Shop Black Week campaign welcome all types of Black-owned businesses who would be able to keep 100% of the proceeds from their products and services.” A qualified business simply has to register and pass the vetting process by signing up at shopblackweek.org. Organizers of the Official SBW forecast an average of 30,000 daily website visitors who will be searching to find quality Black-owned businesses to support.

Everyone making a purchase from a Black-owned business during Shop Black Week November 20-27th should hashtag #shopblackweek and let everyone know about any purchases including business names, locations, dates and photos.

Press Contact, Latoya Meshell, (833) 991-0911 or 258334@email4pr.com

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Greenwood Closes $3 million Seed Round To Build Online Banking Solution for Blacks and Latinx

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Venture founded by Ambassador Andrew Young, Michael ‘Killer Mike’ Render and Ryan Glover

NEWS PROVIDED BYGreenwood Financial 

Michael Render, better known as “Killer Mike,” rapper turned activist, and Ambassador Andrew J. Young, civil rights legend and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Former Mayor of Atlanta, and Ryan Glover, Greenwood Chairman and founder of Bounce TV network are all founders of Greenwood, the first digital banking platform for Black and Latinx people and business owners. They have secured $3 million in seed money from investors

Greenwood’s initial products are savings and spending accounts that come with a stunningly designed black metal debit card for customers who sign up by the end of the year. Advanced features like Apple, Samsung, and Android pay, virtual debit cards, peer-to-peer transfers, mobile check deposits, and free ATM usage in over 30,000 locations are offered with no hidden fees. Customers who invite their friends to open accounts receive cash awards as a thank you from Greenwood. All deposits are FDIC insured by a partner bank.

Additionally, Greenwood plans to work with brick and mortar minority-owned banks to provide deposits to help strengthen historically black banks.

“The work that we did in the civil rights movement wasn’t just about being able to sit at the counter. It was also about being able to own the restaurant,” said Ambassador Andrew Young. “We have the skills, talent and energy to compete anywhere in the world, but to grow the economy, it has to be based on the spirit of the universe and not the greed of the universe. Killer Mike, Ryan and I are launching Greenwood to continue this work of empowering black and brown people to have economic opportunity.”

A mere five days after the October 8 announcement of the company, Greenwood has received more than 100,000 sign-ups to the waiting list for Greenwood’s digital banking platform at www.bankgreenwood.com. This pace illustrates the demand for a modern solution for minority banking and makes Greenwood one of the most successful launches in the history of the financial services industry.

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Facebook Rolls Out #BuyBlack Friday

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(photo) La’Asia Johnson, Founder of Elle Jae Essentials

With the holiday season fast approaching and the harsh realities of COVID -19 still lingering in the world, Facebook wants to do its part to further support Black-owned businesses. Facebook recently announced its #BuyBlack Friday campaign with the hope of celebrating and supporting black-owned businesses and their communities which have been extremely impacted by the pandemic. 

It is well known that Black-owned businesses are closing at double to triple the rate of other small businesses. Facebook will be working closely with the US Black Chambers and encouraging people to #Buy Black over the holidays. Staring October 30th Facebook will be introducing features in the Facebook app. They’ll also be hosting a range of events and resources within Facebook’s Lift Black Voices Hub, and airing the #BuyBlack Friday Show that will air live every Friday from October 20 – November 27 featuring Black businesses, musical artists and entertainers, writers, etc.

Consumers and Facebook users can visit https://about.fb.com/news/2020/10/buy-black-friday/ for more information.

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