Black chamber of commerce connecting black businesses to resources amid pandemic

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KILLEEN, Texas – The City of Harker Heights, Killeen and many others throughout Central Texas are making history.

For the first time, city leaders signed proclamations for the Innovative Central Texas Black Chamber of Commerce honoring Black Business Month.

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows black owned businesses are almost twice as likely to fail during the current pandemic.

The Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce provides tools and alliances so black business owners not only survive, but thrive amid the pandemic.

“I took it personal, because it does hurt. It’s a different type of hurt,” said Ronnie Russel.

The type of hurt Russell is talking about is when a black-owned business with potential fails.

As the president of the Innovation Black Chamber of Commmerce, Russel wants to prevent this from happening – since the pandemic business owners across Central Texas are seeing the value of the newly-launched Chamber.

“Now here to date, we have 71 businesses that’s registered. So we have been successful during the pandemic. It really didn’t affect us to where members aren’t signing up, because we launched February 15th of this year. And six months later, which was August the 15th, we have 71 businesses that have registered with the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce,” Russell said.

Business owners like photographer Khandise Cooper say the resources made available to her through the Chamber give her insight relevant to keeping her business afloat.

“His ability to get premiere people on these Zoom calls and getting us information and sending emails and all the information on the website available for these different business owners, it gives us a pace where we should really utilize this time and be smart about what we’re doing if we’re serious about being in business,” said Cooper.

D.J. and realtor Ashley Smith says her affiliation with the Chamber has taken her business venture to new heights.

“If it wasn’t for this Chamber, I don’t know if I would’ve succeeded as a realtor during this time. This is the best I’ve ever done,” Smith told FOX$4.

She says in a time of social injustice and political unrest, the success of black business is critical to the success of Black America.

“Really, where it counts is with our businesses. A lot of businesses are failing, in general. American businesses. But black people statistically, our businesses aren’t doing very well right now, so we need every single tool necessary to be successful in such a hard time,” said Smith.

“Our community is growing, but we have to learn how to grow with it,” Russell added.

For more information on how you can get involved with the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce, you can visit their website at Innovationbcc.org.

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