ICYMI: New Chamber & Hillary Clinton's Message to USBC


In Case You Missed It:
USBC Launches New St. Louis Chamber
Hillary Clinton's Message To Black Businesses
About 75 black business owners and community leaders celebrated the launching of a local branch of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce at an event held at Saint Louis University on Monday, June 13.

"How many of you know you're awesome?" asked Veta Jeffrey, manager of community economic partnerships at the Missouri Department of Economic Development. "The fact that you know you're awesome, does that mean that the person next to you is not awesome?"

Jeffrey was pointing to the fact that there are currently a few other regional organizations that provide services for minority businesses, including the St. Louis Minority Business Council and the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council.

"We want something that speaks to African-American business owners, and not just minorities overall," she said. "They can walk in tangent, and we can be a good support."
The board members include Kelvin Westbrook, Tony Thompson, Darlene Davis, Marvin Steele, Damon Jones, Ron Norwood and Naretha Hopson.

The St. Louis branch falls under the regional Heartland Black Chamber, which also includes Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

After Ferguson, the U.S. Black Chamber established a foundation for businesses near "Ground Zero" that were unable to operate in the ongoing unrest. Then they reached out to Jeffrey about opening a local chamber.

The chamber's programs include business employment services and training, assisting in business development and microlending, among others.

One person at the event asked if the local chamber will be working in collaboration or in competition with the other minority business organizations.

Christal Watson, president of the Heartland Black Chamber, said that they want to collaborate.

"What is the black business agenda in St. Louis?" she said. "There needs to be a conversation about what our roles are and what services each of those organizations deliver. There is a role each of us play, and we just need to be more specific about it."

Otis Williams, executive director of the St. Louis Business Development Council, said he applauds many of the services that the chamber officers and any efforts to "get the minority community into the working environment."

Mike Jones, former senior policy advisor for County Executive Charlie Dooley (and current member of The St. Louis American editorial board and the State Board of Education), said the chamber's launch is an important step for black business leaders.

"The laws of the universe apply to the big and the small," he said. "You will never develop without effective political instruments."

Hillary Clinton's Message To USBC & Black Businesses
In the days ahead of clinching the Democratic presidential nomination and President Obama's endorsement, Hillary Clinton released an exclusive video showing her support of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. and small business. The USBC aired the exclusive video during it's annual business conference. Following the viewing of the video, USBC President Ron Busby released a statement.

"We were one of the 1st black organizations to support Hillary Clinton in the early stages, when it was deemed 'too early to publicly endorse' her campaign," notes Busby. "We've said then that we believe she is the best candidate with the best understanding of the economic challenges facing black business owners and small business owners across the board."

At that time, Busby asserted that "in order for there to be a strong black America, there must be strong black businesses." Citing the need for a candidate who would "expand access to capital, provide tax relief, and expand access to new markets for black business owners," he said Clinton was the best person for the job.

Most recently Secretary Clinton issued a video message to greet the membership of black business owners and Chamber leaders during an annual business conference. Busby went on to say, "we are honored to hear from Hillary Clinton and appreciate her support of our efforts to increase entrepreneurship in the black business community."

According to the briefing statement on HillaryClinton.com regarding her support for small business, "African Americans have made great progress in small business entrepreneurship. The number of small businesses owned by African American women, for example, has more than quadrupled since 1997. But while small businesses have helped African American families get ahead, they too often face difficulties securing the outside funding they need to grow. Hillary will fight to level the playing field for African American small business owners by cutting red tape, expanding access to capital, providing tax relief, and expanding access to new markets."

In addition to easing unnecessary regulatory burdens on community banks, which provide credit to small business owners, Clinton has said that she will support innovative new financing modes like impact investing. She will double support for community development financial institutions and the successful State Small Business Credit Initiative, which offers crucial sources of support for small businesses across the country-particularly in underserved communities.

Check Out Clinton's Video Message:
Click Image to Play Video

Press Inquiries:
USBC President Ron Busby is available for statements and press interviews.