By Kerwin Brown
President & CEO
Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 data, African-Americans in Arizona owned 6,330 firms in 2002 with more than 530,000 average gross receipts and 6,530 paid employees. The information came from the most recent statistics available from the Minority Business Development Agency, Western Regional Office for the U.S. Black Chambers.
Industries in Arizona with the highest number of Black-owned firms include healthcare and social assistance (1,274); administrative support, waste management and remediation services (996); professional, scientific, and technical services (746); other services (636); and retail trade (571).
Given the need to support Black-owned and small or entrepreneurial businesses throughout the state, The Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce rebranded itself in January and launched as a statewide organization as The Black Chamber of Arizona.
The Black Chamber of Arizona’s mission will always be to serve Black-owned businesses. It’s human nature to want to connect with people with whom we identify. That’s why Black business owners in Southern Arizona began to reach out to us when the Tucson Black Chamber closed its doors last year. Up north, in Flagstaff, city council member Coral Evans said she is excited that we’ll be expanding across Arizona. She says our presence is “long overdue, especially in Northern and rural Arizona.”
The Black Chamber of Arizona is also, however, an inclusive organization that welcomes all people, regardless of their skin color. In fact, we’ve been serving the business community in Arizona for 17 years. Three years ago, we established our “Five Pillars of Service,” which we promote as a statewide organization.
These pillars are:
• Access to capital
• Business development
• Entrepreneurial training
We’re looking to serve all elements of our business community. The Chamber is organizing an Arizona Women of Color Business Collaborative to be launched in October. We’re also looking to provide multiple alternatives for access to capital for small businesses and start-ups.
Even though business markets differ in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, corporations with a presence throughout Arizona are glad to learn about the Black Chamber’s new statewide initiative, making it easier for them to go to a unified source for informed perspectives about the interests of Black business communities in the state.
As the Western Regional Office for the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. — which encompasses Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming — Arizona business owners gain greater visibility and access to national resources, including the USBC School of Chamber and Business Management that takes place annually in Washington, D.C.
The Black Chamber of Arizona will continue to stay current with important policy-making discussions throughout the state. We’ve written letters of support to local cities that are proposing anti-discrimination ordinances. We’re committed to helping build inclusive work environments where no one is discriminated against based on the color of their skin, religion or sexual orientation.
Ultimately, a unified Black Chamber of Arizona enables businesses to better leverage our numbers by networking and collaborating together across the state. We welcome your participation and any questions you may have about our new statewide initiative.