AFRICANGLOBE – The Toledo African American Chamber of Commerce (TAACC) advocates and promotes the economic growth and development of Black-owned businesses by focusing on the development of business opportunities, business alliances and legislative advocacy.
There are several tactics that will help create an environment of economic stability and help create jobs for one of Toledo’s most underserved communities. If we can help our businesses grow and expand, they in turn will hire those within our community who want to turn their lives around and those whom mainstream businesses do not employ. These tactics have worked successfully in other communities around the country and can work here.
It is a well-known fact that our community has traditionally been among the most marginalized and underrepresented. It has the highest rates of unemployment, lowest per capita individual income, highest crime rates, highest teen pregnancy rates, lowest life expectancy rates, one of the highest rates of homelessness, the most uneducated and unhealthy group and the highest rate of underfunded businesses. As you can see from this list, the needs are great.
These conditions exist for a variety of reasons (including conditions we have caused within our community). The entire community will be strengthened as some of the issues that have plagued our community for decades are addressed and eliminated. The tactics are as follows:
- Recycle our dollars as many times as possible within our community by patronizing our businesses. We can help create jobs in our own community by helping our businesses grow. This growth cannot occur without consistent and sustained support of our local businesses.
- Ensure that our businesses have the same level of access to public contracts as other groups.
- Work with governments, public institutions and others to develop job creation strategies that include our community. For instance, the University of Toledo, City of Toledo, Lucas County Commissioners, Mercy, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Neighborhood Health Association and the State of Ohio have all made commitments in writing to include minority-owned businesses in their procurement processes. These organizations understand the importance of granting underserved communities the opportunity to grow their businesses by doing business with them. Other organizations, like the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and Metroparks of Toledo Area apparently do not. The library has refused to adopt similar written inclusion polices and has refused to release evidence of its procurement performance to underserved communities even though it is public information. The Metroparks have indicated for more than two years now that they intend to adopt a policy but have not.
- Unite and work together to develop plans that address blight, safety, infrastructure improvement and the delivery of services in and to our community.
- Refrain from aligning with people who do not have a proven track record of supporting economic initiatives that have benefited our community. This includes elected officials, political candidates and levy sponsors.
- Require that politicians and organizations we support with our votes and dollars reciprocate by supporting initiatives that focus on investing their resources in our community.
- Set the leadership tone by requesting that corporate welfare (such as tax abatements, development assistance, public grants and block grant allocations) be given only to those entities that have a proven track record of including underserved communities in their hiring and procurement processes.TAACC believes that if we do more to help ourselves, along with the support of those outside our community, the entire Northwest Ohio community will benefit, grow and prosper.
By: Jay Black
Mr. Black is president of the Toledo African American Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at (419) 407-6697 or [email protected].