NAACP chief promotes black businesses

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Pastor Alvin Carlisle and James Perry

NAACP chief promotes black businesses

During its first meeting of the new year, the Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce invited the leaders of two of the most influential organizations in the city to discuss their organization’s vision and strategic plan for economic development in the black community.

Alvin Carlisle, president of the local NAACP chapter, said when he took over leadership early last year, one of the things that was vital for him was to help advance black businesses in the area. He said, “I’m unapologetically passionate about advancing the plight of colored people.

“One of my missions as president was to be involved in the advancement of black businesses. I think the game-changer for black communities is when we have black businesses engaged,” Carlisle continued. “Around the time of Reconstruction, we had to do business with each other because that’s all we had. Unfortunately we’ve lost that passion and our economic base.”

As he continued to discuss the importance of black-owned businesses in the area, Carlisle said we must treat minority-owned businesses like newborn babies. He said just like a newborn, small businesses take time to develop and it is important that we give business owners that time.

“I believe that it is important that black people become compassionate about becoming that family member that takes care of our businesses until they grow,” Carlisle said.

Since taking the reigns of the local chapter, Carlisle and the NAACP executive board have hosted several “Small Business Days” at the chapter headquarters on Oak Ridge Drive. These events, which are free to all who participate, are designed to promote business owners who don’t have a physical space to sell and promote their products or services. The week before Christmas, more than a dozen minority owned businesses participated in a holiday version of the Small Business Day event.

Carlisle also announced he is in conversations with The Chronicle to feature a Black Business of the Month. Carlisle said although conversations are still in the early stages, he hopes to start highlighting black-owned businesses in the area very soon.

Before discussing some of the initiatives his organization has to support the local economy, James Perry, CEO and president of the Winston-Salem Urban League, talked about some of the problems minority business owners face.

He said one of the biggest challenges he sees with people starting their own businesses is, they don’t understand the market and how the economy has changed over the years.

“The world economy has fundamentally transformed right before our eyes and that’s probably the most difficult part about owning a business in this market,” Perry said. “The biggest issue I see is that people are looking to start businesses that are geared toward yesteryear’s technology. In every single circumstance there’s a way technology is making your business venture easier but on the other hand it may be making what you do obsolete.”

In an attempt to prepare potential business owners for the shift in technology, Perry said the Urban League is working to level the playing field by ensuring local entrepreneurs have the skills to succeed. Along with hosting computer literacy courses, Perry said it is equally important that citizens have employment opportunities as well.

Currently the WSUL sponsors a Senior Community Service Employment Program and a Summer Youth Employment Program.

Following a brief question and answer session with entrepreneurs in attendance, Randon Pender, president of the Black Business Chamber, said the panel was a great way to jumpstart the year. She said, “This has been an awesome meeting to start the year.

“I want to thank Pastor Carlisle and Mr. Perry for discussing their organizations and their work to uplift the community.” Carlisle is pastor of Exodus Baptist Church.

The Winston-Salem Black Business Chamber of Commerce meets the first Thursday of every month at the Enterprise Center, located at 1922 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. For more information contact Randon Pender by phone at (336) 575-2006 or by email at randon@nullwsblackchamber.com.

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