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The African American Chamber is Ready for Amazon

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By Cincinnati Herald Staff

The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Amazon asking it to locate its second headquarters in Cincinnati and support Black businesses. “As the leading voice of Black business, I believe that it is important for us to let Amazon know that there are creative and successful Black business owners in Cincinnati,” said Eric H. Kearney, president and CEO of the Chamber.

Amazon has asked economic development organizations and cities in North America to respond to its proposal for a new headquarters, HQ2. Amazon promises $5 billion in investment and 50,000 jobs with salaries averaging $100,000 to the city that wins its headquarters. Said John Moore, Chairman of the Board of the Chamber and President of Moore Air, Inc., “Amazon being an active participant in the future of Cincinnati will be transformative.”

Many members of the Chamber applaud the effort to put the accomplishments of Black businesses in front of Amazon. “The Amazon HQ2 would enhance economic development in the region by incentivizing MBEs to strategically align to compete for opportunities on a larger scale,” said Ron DeLyons, CEO of Creekwood Energy Partners whose business is a member of the African American Chamber of Commerce. Continuing, DeLyons said, “Amazon has the potential to create larger MBEs with the capability of providing comprehensive solutions to organizations worldwide.”

With HQ2 in Cincinnati, many business owners see great business opportunities coming their way. Zola Stewart, CFO of Roselawn Group, LLC, said, “attracting Amazon who would bring great value and opportunity for local businesses like mine. Amazon has a local marketing initiative allowing local businesses to expand their market presence through their online infrastructure.”

Amazon would have an economic ripple effect. As noted by Clifford A. Bailey, President of TechSoft Systems, Inc. and NMSDC Board Member, “The minority business community welcomes Amazon and other corporations and seek to help them become more successful. Minority businesses offer their innovative solutions that will help Amazon meet its organizational, financial, and community goals when the opportunity is presented.”

Moore put it this way, “It is great that the African American Chamber is asserting itself more into the greater business conversation in our region.  For so long, we presented ourselves in front of issues that affect Black business in a reactionary position.  With the Amazon HQ2 proposal from our region, the African American Chamber is positioning itself and Black businesses as relevant and viable in all economic efforts.” Chamber Board Secretary Jason E. Dunn, executive vice president of Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “Diverse business opportunities equals access; access equals empowerment; empowerment equals innovation and solutions.”

In Amazon’s guidance, it states that it wants the location for HQ2 to be in a metropolitan area with more than one million people; a stable and business-friendly environment; urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent; and communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options. “Based on those criteria, I think Cincinnati has a strong chance. We need to emphasize inclusion, opportunity, and a cooperative effort,” Kearney said.

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