Members of the African American Chamber of Commerce and supporters: Morgan A. Owens (far left), April Pope (front center), Jason Dunn (behind Pope), AACC President and CEO Eric H. Kearney (far right), and Roy Sutton (left of Kearney) among many other friends and community members. Photo provided
By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
The African American Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with University of Cincinnati Economics Center, did a study, which shows that Greater Cincinnati Black businesses had a $1.4 billion economic impact. This is the first study in the nation by a chamber of Commerce to quantify the economic impact of Black businesses.
These businesses directly employ 8,680 people with $540 millions in earnings throughout the Cincinnati Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Earnings by these Black-owned businesses have generated approximately $6.2 million in sales tax to the states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Plus an additional $1.2 million to the five Ohio counties (Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren), which are included in the Cincinnati Metropolitan Service Area. The earnings have had a $7.5 million direct economic impact.
The findings are from top industries in the MSA, including professional, scientific, technical services, construction, health care, retail and wholesale trade.
These figures were revealed as the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce virtually celebrated its 25th anniversary at its annual meeting on January 27.
Eric H. Kearney, AACC President and CEO, said that the “analysis shows a robust number of growing enterprises, jobs created, and communities positively impacted by our Black businesses.”
Speakers included Eric H. Kearney, AACC President and CEO, Julie Heath, Executive Director of UC Economics Center, and Jason Dunn, AACC Board
This news comes at a time just after 40 percent of Black businesses in the Cincinnati region failed in 2020 due to the restrictions placed on society by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kearney. Also, 54 % of the members did not receive federal Paycheck Protection Program loan relief in the first stimulus package, and 76 % did not receive Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
“Our number one priority was the survival of our members,” he said. “We have relied on many various issues, such as Facebook. Zoom, surveys, great business improvement programming, pitch events, and other resources to help our businesses survive.”
Some of the programs included having business guru Kelly James talk about finance and opportunities. The Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of National Action Network, discussed business from a Black point of view. Other Zoom conferences were conducted.
The Chamber provided 8,000 masks for protection of business employees, and food boxes were distributed to community members last year.
Despite the barriers COVID-19 has placed in the operations of small businesses, the local African American Chamber is stronger that it has been in 25 years, Kearney said. The organization has been able to build its first reserve fund; move into modern, spacious new offices on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills; have support from Hamilton County; bring diverse and larger new industries into its membership; provide free legal services for some members; count on the City of Cincinnati as a partner in dealing with the impact of COVID-19; is rebranding several programs; and brought on board new talent.
“We plan to make 2021 a special year for our small businesses,’’ Kearney said.
Board Chairman Jason E. Dunn, echoed that comment in saying, “While the Chamber members have run into roadblocks at every turn during the past year, our passion has kept us strong. We have been able to set a strong foundation for the next 25 years.”
Dunn said, “We have the data, now let’s take out the emotion and determine how we address the disparities that prevent this number from being larger.”
Dunn, in lauding the leadership of Kearney, said it has been “awesome how the Chamber has grown, with the expansion of the Chamber greater than any other chamber in the state.’’
Stephanie Dumas, the first African American president of the Hamilton County Commission, noted that the county now has an inclusion department. “Our focus at the commission is clearly on economic development, ‘she said. “We must advocate for each other, for business growth. That is my focus.”