DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Michigan’s first all-black chamber of commerce launched Tuesday in Midtown Detroit to exclusively aid nearly 33,000 black-owned businesses.
O’Neill Swanson, CEO of Swanson Funeral Home, said a chamber of commerce serving the needs of black-owned businesses will be critical to the growth and development not only of Detroit, but the rest of the state of Michigan.
The new chamber will have members in Pontiac, Southfield, Grand Rapids, Flint and Lansing.
The goal, per the new Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce is to “broaden access to financial assistance and health services for black business owners and their employees.”
Tony Stovall, president of the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce, hosted a media day on Tuesday at the St. Regis Hotel in Detroit where representatives from PNC Bank, the state of Michigan, the city of Detroit and a local healthcare provider shared their support.
The core focus of the DBCC is to demonstrate effective leadership in the pursuit of parity, equity and inclusion in all areas of business growth and development in the Detroit region.
“Membership and involvement is the essence of an effective Chamber of Commerce. Businesses become members because they take pride in their community and want to grow their companies. As a chamber member, they become a voice in the community where they conduct business,” Stovall said.
The DBCC plans to serve as an advocate to address the challenges facing black business owners with policy makers, investors and others to access capital.
It’s necessary, Stovall said, for black business owners to gain access to “mainstream economics.”
The chamber plans to address barriers to capital, which Stovall believes now limits the expansion of black-owned businesses, provide effective training and support in best business practices for continued success, and to “level the playing field for black businesses to obtain opportunities in the private and public sectors.”
Specifically, chamber members said their primary goal is to increase membership to more than 500 and represent members at public hearings and with the media on issues that impact “not only the business community but the community at large.”