Atlanta claims 127,214 of the 1.9 million black-owned businesses according to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners, reporting some $2.5 billion in receipts. However, most of these businesses are sole proprietors and most are self-funded, says Cindy Yang, a small business analyst with NerdWallet. With the exception of H.J. Russell & Co., most West Atlanta black-owned businesses fall into the sole proprietorship or less-than-four employees category. In an effort to increase business growth within the 30310 and 30314 areas, CommUniversity, a program of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, and the University Community Development Corp., are helping area businesses reach “next-level” potential through its inaugural Small Business Assessment, Resources and Consultation workshops.
Divided into three programmatic phases – assessment, resources and consultation – six businesses identified by business and community representatives from the MLK Jr.-Ashby Merchants Association and the West End Merchants Coalition were selected by AUCC to receive seven weeks of training development, technical assistance, and mentorship from industry experts in the three areas.
“So many of the businesses in our community are very small-run operations, and they do relatively well for the most part,” said Anthony Otey, CommUniversity program coordinator. “But, they want to step up their operation to the next level. These businesses want to boost not only their revenue but also their visibility, capital development, and clientele, and we want to help them achieve these goals.”
From Feb. 8 to March 21, 2016, with a grant from REGIONS Bank, the Small Business ARC program aimed to set the small businesses on a new trajectory of success. Sessions included business plan development, best practices and strategies to increase revenue and customer retention, credit correction and capital acquisition, marketing and measured growth. The participating businesses completing the sessions included BAOBab Custom Design/Tree Enterprises, Dora’s Custom Reupholstery, Dynamic Designs, iwi fresh Garden Day Spa, Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center and Bookstore, and Your Edenic Welcome.
“This was a very useful program that helped bring awareness of what it takes to analyze a business,” said the Rev. Milton“Ahdwele” Fann, chair and administrator of the Atlanta Shrine of the Black Madonna. “As small black businesses, we think we know what is important to our businesses; however, this helped me know where we should focus our efforts and direct our energies.”
While several of the sessions were of great use to Fann, it was the financial session led by Roy Johnson, a senior consultant with Bankers-Insight Group, that was most beneficial to his organization. Fann, along with his fellow business owners, wants to continue to expand his business footprint in the West End community. Although the workshop sessions are completed, the six businesses will now begin their assessment and consultation services with area business experts.
For more information on the Small Business Assessment, Resources and Consultation (ARC), contact Anthony Otey at 404-523-5148, ext. 1525.